By Ian Hoffman, Alameda Newspaper Group, May 26, 2004
County dumps Diebold voting machines
By Warren Lutz, Fairfield Daily Republic, May 26, 2004
Yesterday the Solano County Board of supervisors voted to abandon its $4 million contract with Diebold and switch to an optical scan system from ES&S. Solano is one of several California counties impacted by Kevin Shelley's April 30 decertification order. Solano had purchased 1,171 Diebold TSX machines and used the equipment in the March election. Now that equipment will be sent back to Diebold, presumably to its McKinney, Texas facility.
We'll see in the upcoming days and weeks what Diebold's other California touchscreen counties plan to do. These counties include Alameda, San Diego, Kern, San Joaquin, and Plumas.
Excerpt from Ian Hoffman's story:
Diebold lobbied Solano hard to keep its contract. The McKinney, Texas-based firm had offered a full optical-scanning system and printed ballots, all free, for the November election. Solano had its choice of keeping the system afterward or returning to use of the touch-screens if Diebold later got it certified to produce a paper, backup record that voters could check, known as a voter-verified paper trail.
Solano's new registrar of voters had recommended staying with Diebold's proposal as the least disruptive route through the November elections.
"They were very anxious to keep us as customers and were willing to spend almost any amount of money to keep us," said Solano registrar and chief information officer Ira Rosenthal.
On Tuesday, Solano County supervisors said no in a 3-1 vote and sent packing the nation's largest supplier of touch-screens and second largest supplier of voting systems.
"There was a confidence issue with the way Diebold conducted business with the county and the state in the past year," Rosenthal said.
Excerpt from Warren Lutz' story:
David Bear, a spokesman for the McKinney, Texas-based company, had no comment on the board's action.
"It would be hard for me to comment until I could review" the decision, Bear said.
The county also turned down Diebold's free offer to send more optical scanning equipment, whereby voters cast paper ballots, which are scanned electronically. Instead it chose similar equipment from Election Systems & Software, one of the finalists for the county's voting contract two years ago.
Supervisor Duane Kromm, who sided against his colleagues, called their decision "a colossal blunder" and suggested the county may owe Diebold money.
"I think this is going to cost us a million bucks," Kromm said.
He added the county's election department has been unfairly "whipsawed" by the Diebold controversy. Four people have left the 10-person office since the March primary, including Registrar of Voters Laura Winslow.
Silva, who became a frequent critic of Diebold after the company's problems began making news last fall, didn't agree.
"I don't feel like we're whipsawing staff," Silva said. "This board has been whipsawed."