Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Voting-machine maker may pay for paper ballots

By David Siders, the Stockton Record, June 6, 2004


San Joaquin County elections officials are negotiating a deal in which the maker of banned electronic voting machines would pay the costs of a paper ballot election in November, elections officials said last week.

In return, San Joaquin County would neither sever its contract with nor sue Texas-based Diebold Election Systems to recover the cost of mothballing its voting machines in a county warehouse, Registrar of Voters Deborah Hench said.

Elections officials paid $5.7 million for the machines in 2002.

Machines used in March in San Joaquin, Kern, San Diego and Solano counties were banned in April by Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, who said Diebold installed machines that were not certified and lied to the state about it, a charge Diebold has denied.

The agreement being negotiated in San Joaquin County is similar to one announced Wednesday between Diebold and San Diego County. Kern County, meanwhile, has joined a lawsuit against the state to undo the ban, while Solano County has terminated its contract with Diebold altogether.

Hench said she does not want to kill her contract with Diebold, because it took a long time to complete and because "Diebold works well with us."


Elections officials would borrow extra scanning machines from Diebold in November and would ask Diebold to pay the costs to print ballots. Ballots are expected to cost $300,000 to $600,000, depending on whether the ballot is one or two pages, she said.

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