A few weeks ago, I wrote about how county clerks in Arkansas were looking forward to a new voting system but worried about plans to upgrade the system before the state’s March 2016 presidential primary.
While much of that uncertainty remains, at least they now know what machines they’re going to get after an announcement by the Secretary of State yesterday – though even that decision is raising some question about costs. … Of course, just identifying the vendor and a potential cost still leaves some very key variables – namely, delivery schedule and cost – though the Secretary’s spokesman suggested that fast-tracking the implementation is no longer on the table as the state continues to work on funding the purchase.
… This story illuminates several key points:
- procurement of any kind (not just voting systems) takes a variety of forms and doesn’t always go to the lowest bidder – and can change based on contract negotiations;
- even a seemingly-final decision can be held up by concerns about the process used to choose the winner; and
- the existence (or lack thereof) of funding to support the contract can make some of these discussions moot.
Arkansas’s very public process is just one of many that will be underway across the nation in the next year or so as states and localities try to address what the PCEA called an “impending crisis” in voting technology.
While I don’t expect there to be lots of twists and turns, it is a safe bet that the current plan in Arkansas will change at least once as details about, funding, cost, delivery or timing come into sharper focus.