Thursday, September 2, 2004

Solano County pays $415,000 to get out of e-voting contract

Associated Press, September 1, 2004


Solano County paid $415,000 to get out of a contract with voting equipment manufacturer Diebold Inc., and county officials will instead buy $4.2 million in new equipment from a rival company.

Deputy County Counsel Wendy Getty said the county reached a settlement Aug. 16 with Diebold. The North Canton, Ohio-based company installed nearly 1,200 paperless touchscreen voting machines throughout the county after winning the contract in 2002.

The county was one of dozens across the country that opted for electronic ballots to avoid problems with "hanging chads" that plagued the 2000 presidential election.

But in May, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley banned the type of machines used in Solano and three other counties after discovering uncertified software and other problems that potentially "jeopardized" the outcomes of the March presidential primary and other elections.


After the secretary of state's discovery, Solano County voter registrar Laura Winslow, a staunch defender of touchscreen voting systems, resigned.

Last week, the county sent about $4 million worth of Diebold Accu-Vote TSx machines back to a company office in McKinney, Texas. Diebold offered to replace the banned machines for free with its own optical-scan systems, which include a paper ballot.

County officials rejected the offer, opting to buy new equipment from Diebold rival Election Systems & Software Inc. for nearly $4.2 million, Solano County Chief Information Officer Ira Rosenthal told the Fairfield-Suisun City Daily Republic.

Solano County residents will use ES&S optical-scan equipment in November.

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