Georgia: ES&S’s close ties to election officials stir concerns about voting system purchase | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
When Gov. Brian Kemp hired an election company’s lobbyist this month, the move raised alarm bells about one company’s influence on Georgia’s upcoming purchase of a new statewide voting system. Concerns from government accountability advocates only grew days later, when a commission created by Kemp recommended that the state buy the type of voting machines sold by the lobbyist’s company, Election Systems & Software. Several other vendors also offer similar voting machines. Then Kemp proposed spending $150 million on a new statewide voting system, an amount that matches estimates for the cost of the system promoted by ES&S, called ballot-marking devices, which use a combination of touchscreens and ballot printers. The latest moves fueled suspicions that cozy connections between lobbyists, Kemp and other elected officials will lead to ES&S winning a rich contract to sell its computerized voting products to the state government, even though 55 percent of Georgia voters said in a poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this month that they prefer a cheaper system where paper ballots are filled in by voters.