Louisiana: Lingering election doubts undermine democracy. Will state replace machines with paper ballots? | Mark Ballard | ark Ballard/The Advocate

Two recent national surveys show that a year after Donald Trump was defeated at the polls about two-thirds of his supporters and Republicans still believe the election was stolen. More troubling is that the drumbeat to discredit the 2020 results – despite absolutely no credible evidence of widespread fraud – has lowered confidence in the integrity of U.S. elections to the point that “three in ten Americans now believe the nation’s system is fundamentally unsound,” according to a Monmouth University, of New Jersey, survey of 811 Americans conducted Nov. 4-8 with a margin of error of ±3.5 points. The Monmouth Poll found 73% of Republicans believe that President Joe Biden only won the 2020 election because of voting irregularities. “This constant onslaught of disinformation being targeted at Trump supporters and Republican voters is leading to the environment which we’re seeing right now,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, the Washington, D.C.-based think tank that, along with GOP pollster Echelon Insights, of Virginia, surveyed 1,600 Americans Oct. 20-26 with a margin of error of ±3.5 points. That poll found 65% of Republicans surveyed still say the votes in 2020 weren’t counted fairly.

Full Article: Lingering election doubts undermine democracy. Will Louisiana replace machines with paper ballots? | Mark Ballard | theadvocate.com

Louisiana lawmakers restart process to purchase voting machines | Rachel ipro/Louisiana Illuminator

Louisiana started up a new process again for purchasing voting machines Wednesday, when it convened a new commission that will seek public input and vet the vendors applying for the state’s voting machine contract that could be worth $100 million. But Louisiana’s attempts to replace its outdated election machines hasn’t gone smoothly over the last few years. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s two attempts to replace machines failed due to public concern about voter fraud and Republican backlash. Lawmakers on the Voting System Commission stressed bipartisan support and transparency, saying the public would be informed at every step of selecting the state’s new voting systems. In 2018, a contract with the state’s current vendor Dominion Voting Systems, was voided due to an alleged mishandling of the bidding process. In March of this year, Ardoin reopened the bidding process, only to cancel again after he was accused of favoring Dominion. He was also criticized for not allowing more public discussion of the new system, according to the Associated Press. Ardoin has also had to navigate multiple conspiracy theories surrounding Dominion Voting Systems, which supplied the state’s current machines. But Ardoin said the newly-formed commission on voting system selection was making a fresh start. “This commission is not about the past but about our future, a future that provides Louisiana citizens with confidence that their vote will be accurately counted,” Ardoin said. “This is not a commission for political bias whether we are Republicans, Democrats or independents. This is a commission of elected leaders, election officials, community activists and professionals.”

Full Article: Louisiana lawmakers restart process to purchase voting machines – Louisiana Illuminator

Louisiana’s Election Integrity Commission folds after two meetings | Wesley Muller/Louisiana Illuminator

After holding just two organizational meetings since it was founded this year in response to baseless allegations of voter fraud, the Louisiana Commission on Election Integrity and Voting was suspended on Thursday. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin made the announcement in a news release, thanking the members for their service and saying he needs to focus on other work. “I sincerely thank Chairman Quentin Dastugue and all members of this commission for their willingness to serve,” Ardoin said. “However, at this time, my staff and I must focus on supporting the important work of studying Louisiana’s next voting system as mandated by statute.” Ardoin has been working for several years to find suitable replacements for the state’s outdated voting machines. The commission that Ardoin suspended was one he formed in April in an effort to appease some who alleged, without evidence, that Louisiana’s elections were fraudulent. Despite this, state lawmakers established their own version of a board that could investigate such allegations and provide oversight of the state’s procurement of new voting machines — the Louisiana Voting Systems Commission, formed by way of Senate Bill 221, which Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law this month as Act 480.  The newer Voting Systems Commission is similarly established within the Louisiana Department of State “for the purpose of independently reviewing any proposals received by the secretary of state” for the sale of voting machines.

Full Article: Louisiana’s Election Integrity Commission folds after two meetings

Louisiana’s new voting machine selection process won’t please everyone | Business Report

Gov. John Bel Edwards, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and Republican lawmakers have agreed to rework Louisiana’s method for selecting its next voting system, but the new law isn’t likely to end disputes over what technology to select and how to do the shopping. The new process, worked out in a bill by Senate GOP leader Sharon Hewitt, adds layers of legislative oversight and technical analysis, allows for more public input and requires an auditable paper trail for the voting system that can be chosen by Ardoin, the Republican who oversees elections in the state. Two recent efforts from the secretary of state’s office to replace Louisiana’s 10,000-plus voting machines collapsed in controversy. That has left the state continuing to scavenge for parts to keep some machines, many of which are decades-old, up and running properly. Lawmakers agree that a new voting system is needed. But on election issues, there’s simply no way to satisfy everyone. The changes included in Hewitt’s legislation won’t address all the disparate criticisms from supporters of former President Donald Trump who believe his claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Full Article: Louisiana’s new voting machine selection process won’t please everyone 

Louisiana Governor signs bill moving state to paper-based elections | Matt Doyle/Louisiana Radio Network

Governor Edwards signs legislation that will begin the process of shifting Louisiana from an electronic voting system to a paper-based system. Under a paper system, voters will receive a paper ballot that they can look at to make sure their vote was tabulated correctly, and that can be later audited by hand should the need arise. Slidell Senator Sharon Hewitt said her bill will further strengthen the integrity of our elections. “What is great about a paper-based system is that it is auditable, it is secure, and it is significantly cheaper than our 30-year-old outdated machines,” said Hewitt. “With an electronic system you push a button to cast a vote and that is it, so there is no way at the end to audit the result.”

Full Article: Governor signs bill moving state to paper-based elections | louisianaradionetwork.com

Louisiana: Lawmakers rewrite rules for voting system search | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

In the final minutes of their legislative session, Louisiana lawmakers agreed to change the way the state shops for voting systems, to include more public vetting and require an auditable paper trail, after two recent efforts to replace the state’s voting machines failed amid controversy. The House voted 69-34 Thursday for the heavily rewritten bill by Senate Republican leader Sharon Hewitt, while the Senate backed it with a 27-10 vote. The proposal — which was negotiated with Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin — heads to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards for consideration. The measure would add new layers of legislative oversight and technical analysis, enact new requirements for the voting system that could be chosen and remove some decision-making from Ardoin, the Republican who oversees elections in the state. “It shifts our state from an outdated electronic voting system and shifts to a paper-based voting system, which is more secure, easier to audit and cheaper, most likely,” said Hewitt, of Slidell. A newly created commission that includes lawmakers, elections experts, a cybersecurity expert and others would analyze and make recommendations about the type of voting system that should be bought or leased. The commission would have to hold open meetings, giving the general public more points to offer thoughts before the bid solicitation begins. Louisiana’s new voting system would have to produce a paper record, unlike the current decades-old machines used on Election Day. The legislation also would mandate that Louisiana’s voting system can’t connect to the internet, already the practice today in the secretary of state’s office.

Full Article: Lawmakers rewrite rules for Louisiana’s voting system search

Louisiana could change from voting machines to paper ballots after closed-door negotiations | Mark Ballard/The Advocate

Louisiana will be moving to elections using paper ballots under legislation finally approved about 90 minutes before the Legislature adjourned Thursday at 6 p.m. Senate Bill 221, by state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, had been negotiated behind closed doors for about two weeks. Agreement came in the closing moments of the two-month-old legislative session. The result merged much of the language from two similar House-passed bills with the Senate measure. Current law requires Louisiana votes in machines. The legislation would now require a paper ballot that would be scanned to count. Louisiana’s current fleet of voting machines are aging and replacement parts aren’t easy to find. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has been trying to nail down a deal for new machines. Dominion Voting Systems Corp., an equipment and software company founded in Canada with headquarters in Denver, won the early phase of a bidding process that was successfully challenged as unfair by the losers. Work on a new bidding process is still ongoing. After the presidential election in November, Dominion became the target of widespread and specious rumors of being involved in the unproven claims of widespread fraud in presidential election. “The machines are outdated and it’s time to make change,” Hewitt said, adding that she had heard the worries of some voters voiced about voting machine vendors.

Full Article: Louisiana could change from voting machines to paper ballots after closed-door negotiations | Legislature | theadvocate.com

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin tired of elections resolutions | Legislature | Mark Ballard/The Advocate

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin blasted Tuesday the number of resolutions being pursued by Republican legislators that hint at widespread voting irregularities are occurring in Louisiana elections. “I’m dead-dog tired of my staff and the clerks and the registrars and their staffs getting poked at,” Ardoin, a Republican, told the House & Governmental Affairs Committee during consideration of another legislative instrument concerning how elections are handled. House Concurrent Resolution 81 by Baton Rouge Republican Rick Edmonds directs the Legislative Auditor’s Office to review the State Department’s “policies, procedures, and practices and those of elections officials in this state regarding the integrity of elections.” Edmonds ran against Ardoin for secretary of state in November 2018 promising to root out election fraud. He came in fourth in the nine-candidate primary. Ardoin pointed out that his department’s performance already is scheduled to be reviewed and judged in 2022, as part of the legislative auditor’s routine analysis of every state agency. Edmonds’ resolution is superfluous.

Full Article: Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin tired of elections resolutions | Legislature | theadvocate.com

Louisiana Senators Back Bill to Modify Voting Machine Search | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Louisiana would rework the way it shops for voting machines, under legislation that started moving forward Tuesday in the state Senate after two failed efforts to replace the state’s voting system ended in controversy. The proposal by Senate Republican leader Sharon Hewitt would add new layers of legislative oversight, broaden the types of voting systems allowed and remove some decision-making from Louisiana’s secretary of state. The measure would create a commission to analyze and select the type of voting system that could be bought or leased, rather than the secretary of state. The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, which Hewitt chairs, sent the bill to the full Senate for debate without objection. Hewitt, of Slidell, said her proposal would offer “a much more open, fair, transparent and accountable process for securing voting systems.” She said it would give the general public more points in the process to offer thoughts before the bid solicitation begins. Still, several people who repeated baseless allegations of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election said Hewitt’s legislation, while well-intentioned, did not do enough to address their concerns. They said they wanted the bill to require paper ballots and more clear public input on the voting system selection.

Full Article: Louisiana Senators Back Bill to Modify Voting Machine Search | Louisiana News | US News

Louisiana: Proposals to change voting machine-buying process, audit elections move forward | Sam Karlin/The Advocate

A Louisiana Senate panel on Tuesday backed a proposal to make a host of changes to how Louisiana buys new voting machines, after a recent effort to procure machines fell apart amid uproar from some voters who believe the 2020 election was rife with fraud. The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee backed the legislation by Chairwoman Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, after lengthy testimony from concerned citizens and a Republican official who clamored for “secure paper ballots” and trashed Dominion Voting Systems, the company that currently provides Louisiana’s voting machines. The committee also backed Senate Bill 220 by Sen. Heather Cloud, R-Turkey Creek, to require the Louisiana legislative auditor to conduct a review of Louisiana’s election processes. The bills are among the first in a wave of election-related proposals that are expected to be heard during the legislative session that began last week. The push for voting changes come amid a national battle over efforts to tighten voting laws in the wake of the 2020 election. Hewitt’s Senate Bill 221 would set up several layers of oversight of Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s effort to buy new voting machines. Under the measure, Ardoin would be required to use input from lawmakers to create a set of standards for new machines. It would also create a new commission to evaluate voting systems.

Full Article: Proposals to change voting machine-buying process, audit Louisiana’s elections move forward | Elections | theadvocate.com

Louisiana: No plans to revive voting machine search soon | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin told lawmakers Thursday that he won’t soon restart Louisiana’s work to upgrade its voting technology, after two prior efforts to replace thousands of voting machines were scrapped amid controversy. Ardoin, the Republican who oversees Louisiana’s elections, shelved the latest voting machine replacement attempt in March after facing widespread complaints from election technology firms, the leader of a state Senate oversight committee and other Republicans. Lawmakers will consider changing the voting machine selection process in their upcoming legislative session. While Ardoin defended his agency’s handling of the contractor search, he told the House Appropriations Committee that he pulled back the bid solicitation process after consultation with House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez, both Republicans. “There is no intent to go out for another (request for proposals) anytime soon?” asked Appropriations Chairman Jerome “Zee” Zeringue, a Houma Republican, during a hearing on Ardoin’s budget for next year. “No,” Ardoin replied.

Full Article: No plans to revive Louisiana’s voting machine search soon

Louisiana Secretary of State withdraws RFP for electronic voting machines after complaints made against Dominion | Zach Parker/Ouachita Citizen

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin ditched his request for proposals to replace 10,000 aging electronic voting machines last week in the face of mounting protest about how his office was handling the request. In January, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin asked the Office of State Procurement to issue a request for proposals, or RFP. The contract could be worth some $100 million. Since then, the state received complaints the RFP was drafted to favor Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver, Colorado voting machine vendor that became the target of national headlines alleging the company’s machines switched votes from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden last November. The company has denied the allegations. “I am in complete support of Secretary of State Ardoin’s decision to withdraw the current procurement process for new voting machines in Louisiana,” said state Senate President Page Cortez. “I believe this will bring an opportunity for full transparency on the purchasing process and election systems for all levels of government.” In a Feb. 26 letter to the state, a law firm representing Election Systems & Software LLC, a Omaha, Nebraska voting machine vendor, protested Ardoin’s RFP, suggesting only Dominion could meet the RFP’s demands. Hart InterCivic, an Austin, Texas election equipment vendor, objected to the RFP on Feb. 12. “This RFP seeks to replace the current system with a system virtually identical to the current system—a self-contained electronic voting system but adding only a specific type of paper backup,” stated the ES&S letter. “Dominion, the incumbent, is the only election system vendor that provides a product that fully meets all of the RFP criteria.

Full Article: Ardoin withdraws RFP for electronic voting machines after complaints made against Dominion | Local/State Headlines | hannapub.com

How Louisiana’s bid for new voting machines fell apart amid baseless fraud allegations | Sam Karlin/The Advocate

Louisiana’s top elections official, Kyle Ardoin, has known for years the state needed to replace its fleet of aging voting machines. After a previous effort to do so in 2018 was rejected, he officially began the quest again in January, seeking a vendor for the potentially $100 million contract. But the new effort coincided with a wave of baseless allegations against one of the three bidders, Dominion Voting Systems, that took hold in right-wing media in the wake of Donald Trump’s election loss in November. At the same time, the two other companies seeking the work halted the process by filing official protests of the plan. And Republican state lawmakers, many of whom were inundated with calls from constituents demanding the state not hire Dominion, slowed the process down, seeking more oversight and public hearings on the contract. As pressure mounted, Ardoin faced the prospect of failing to get approval from the legislative budget committee whose OK he needed. Last week, he abandoned the effort.

Full Article: How Louisiana’s bid for new voting machines fell apart amid baseless fraud allegations | Elections | theadvocate.com

Louisiana: Trump conspiracy theories help stop plan to modernize voting equipment | David Hawkings/The Fulcrum

Louisiana’s unique standing as an election integrity risk, because it’s the only state without any paper trail for votes, is going to continue indefinitely. That’s because the top elections official on Wednesday called off his search to replace the state’s antiquated and entirely electronic fleet of 10,000 voting machines. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin acted amid a whipsaw of criticism. On one side are two election equipment manufacturers who filed formal complaints alleging the bidding process was tailored to favor the current vendor, Dominion Voting Systems. On the other side are influential fellow Republicans, furious that a $100 million contract might go to the firm that former President Donald Trump has put at the heart of his conspiracy theories about election rigging. Caught in the middle will be the state’s electorate, who will remain the only people in the country with no connection to the world of balloting best practices. Even as the threat of hacking raises significant worries about relying on computer chips and code to record and keep track of votes, that is all Louisiana has done for more than two decades. At least some jurisdictions in every other state either use paper ballots or keep a paper record of their tallies.

Full Article: Louisiana halts search for modernized voting equipment – The Fulcrum

Louisiana ends search for new voting machines amid criticism | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Louisiana’s secretary of state decided Wednesday to shelve his search for new voting machines after a barrage of complaints about the bid process from election technology companies, the head of a state Senate oversight committee and his fellow Republicans. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin sent a letter to Paula Tregre, Louisiana’s chief procurement officer, announcing his decision, asking her to remove the bid solicitation from a state website and requesting that she dismiss protests filed by two companies that wanted to seek the work. “I am withdrawing the (request for proposals) to spend the next few months seeking to undo the damage to voter confidence done by those who willfully spread misinformation and disinformation,” Ardoin said in a statement. In his pointed letter to Tregre and a follow-up statement, the Republican secretary of state accused Tregre of mishandling complaints from the vendors about the bid process, defended his search effort and suggested critics were using national concerns about election integrity to derail needed replacement voting machines. “We cannot let election administration become just another political football for politicians or voting machine vendors to kick around, without any understanding or concern for the consequences,” he said. Ardoin said he’ll redo the search in the future, though he gave no date for that plan. It’s the second time the secretary of state has jettisoned his effort to replace 10,000 Election Day and early voting machines, many of which are decades old. Ardoin also ran into problems with a previous effort in 2018.

Full Article: Louisiana ends search for new voting machines amid criticism

Louisiana Voting Machine Search a Political Minefield | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

 If Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin needed another indication about the politically dicey nature of his work to replace Louisiana’s voting machines, he received a bracing and loud reminder during his luncheon speech to a group of Republican women. The women assembled at the Baton Rouge event interrupted his remarks, yelled questions, chastised his responses and accused the Republican elections chief of dodging their concerns. One woman shouted at him from a table, then moved closer to challenge him more directly, saying: “You work for us, and we are unhappy.” And those are people within Ardoin’s own party. “I hear you,” Ardoin repeatedly tried to tell the women. But it’s already clear Ardoin won’t be able to calm all the concerns. A dissatisfied leader of the Senate elections oversight committee Thursday pointedly urged Ardoin to shelve the bid process and redo it later. The secretary of state’s effort to replace 10,000 Election Day and early voting machines with newer, updated technology comes amid intense national scrutiny about the way people vote and the way elections officials tally those ballots. Despite dozens of court rulings upholding the presidential election results, supporters of Donald Trump continue to assert baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud in states the former president lost in November. They have targeted the current voting technology firm Louisiana uses, Dominion Voting Systems, for the unfounded claims. Some Republicans want to bar the company from being allowed to win another state contract — at odds with the public bid process.

Full Article: Analysis: La. Voting Machine Search a Political Minefield | Louisiana News | US News

Lousiana: Election Systems and Software protests state’s voting machine search | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Another elections technology firm is objecting to the terms of Louisiana’s voting machine search, accusing the secretary of state of trying to manipulate the bid process to benefit its current contractor and raising echoes of the dispute that derailed efforts to get new machines three years ago. Election Systems and Software filed a formal protest with Louisiana’s procurement office about the criteria that Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, the state’s top elections official, is using to replace 10,000 Election Day and early voting machines. The Nebraska-based voting system vendor, known as ES&S, said Ardoin’s bid solicitation will limit the state to choosing a “system virtually identical to the current system.” ES&S said it’s impossible for any company to meet the criteria except for Louisiana’s current contractor, Dominion Voting Systems. “It is a noncompetitive solicitation,” ES&S lawyers wrote in the protest filed Friday with Louisiana’s chief procurement officer, Paula Tregre.

Full Article: Another company protests Louisiana’s voting machine search | Elections | theadvocate.com

Louisiana Senate leader wants voting machine search scrapped | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

A key Louisiana Senate leader Thursday called on Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin to jettison his search for new voting machines and redo the effort after seeking more guidance from lawmakers, election experts and the public. In a sharply worded letter to Ardoin, Sen. Sharon Hewitt said the state’s Republican elections chief rushed to start shopping for replacement voting equipment without legislative oversight and without trying to reinforce public trust. She accused Ardoin of “attempting to further avoid public scrutiny by hiding behind a blackout period” now that the solicitation for bidders is underway. “As THE statewide elected official charged with protecting our election procedures, your office’s actions are paramount to building trust and instilling confidence that our elections are fair and run according to Louisiana laws enacted by the legislature,” Hewitt wrote in a letter to Ardoin. Ardoin defended his search for a contractor and suggested he will continue to pursue the effort. Hewitt leads the Senate’s Republican delegation and chairs the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee that oversees election issues — a position that could make it difficult for Ardoin if he tries to continue shopping for voting machines without her support. Ardoin will need contract approval from the majority-GOP joint House and Senate budget committee before entering into any deal for election equipment, and Hewitt also sits on that panel.

Full Article: Louisiana Senate leader wants voting machine search scrapped

Louisiana Elections Chief Asks to Resume Voting Tech Search | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Louisiana’s top elections official is pushing to resume his voting machine replacement effort, telling the state’s chief procurement officer that her temporary hold on work to hire a contractor “needlessly upended” the process. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin lambasted the decision by Louisiana’s chief procurement officer Paula Tregre, whose office in Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration oversees the bidding process. Tregre stopped the voting machine shopping work after one of the interested vendors, Texas-based Hart InterCivic, complained the contractor solicitation was drawn too narrowly and could sideline it and other qualified voting technology firms. The secretary of state’s office said Wednesday that suggestions from the company that the bid solicitation wasn’t being inclusive to vendors “is absurd.” Ardoin sent a letter to Tregre on Sunday saying she “injected confusion” into the replacement effort. “By jumping the gun and declaring a stay of (request for proposals), we cannot even evaluate the concerns raised in Hart’s letter,” Ardoin wrote. It wasn’t clear when the contractor search will resume. Ardoin, a Republican, launched the search for a voting machine vendor on Jan. 27. Bids from companies interested in the contract were supposed to be due at the end of March. Louisiana’s contract is estimated to be worth up to $100 million. Ardoin wants to have the first new early voting machines in some parishes by the spring 2022 elections. Hart InterCivic CEO Julie Mathis said several of the secretary of state’s requirements for contractors — including the type of voting system sought, the machines’ screen size and the phased approach to rolling out new machines — could arbitrarily keep some election technology from being considered.

Full Article: Louisiana Elections Chief Asks to Resume Voting Tech Search | Louisiana News | US News

Louisiana Voting Machine Search Halted Amid Vendot Hart InterCivic Complaint | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Louisiana’s search for new voting machines was temporarily on hold Saturday after one of the vendors trying to compete for the work complained the contractor solicitation was drawn too narrowly and could sideline it and other qualified voting technology firms. Louisiana’s chief procurement officer Paula Tregre, whose office in Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration oversees the bidding process, stalled the solicitation for vendors seeking the voting machine contract on Friday evening after receiving a complaint from Hart InterCivic. It wasn’t immediately clear when the contractor search would resume, if the entire solicitation would have to be rewritten or what other action might be taken. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican who is the state’s top elections official, suggested the decision to halt his office’s search was improper and unnecessary. The early disruption in Louisiana’s effort to shop for voting machines brought reminders of the secretary of state’s failed attempt in 2018 to replace its 10,000 early voting and Election Day equipment. Texas-based Hart InterCivic CEO Julie Mathis said several of the secretary of state’s requirements for contractors — including the type of voting system sought, the machines’ screen size and the phased approach to rolling out new machines — could “arbitrarily prevent the state from seeing all the best options available.” “We hoped the new solicitation would err on the side of inclusivity to ensure the state has the opportunity to evaluate all the best election systems available,” Mathis wrote in a Friday letter to Tregre and Ardoin. Upon receipt of the letter, Tregre responded with a “stay of solicitation” stopping the bid process. Tregre wrote that she was treating Hart InterCivic’s complaint as an official protest under the law. Mathis replied in a Friday email that the company hadn’t intended to “invoke a protest,” but rather to “open a dialogue.” But company spokesman Steven Sockwell on Saturday applauded Tregre’s approach.

Full Article: Louisiana Voting Machine Search Halted Amid Vendor Complaint | Louisiana News | US News

Louisiana: Voting machine bid process sparks concerns | Zach Parker/Ouchita Citizen

The state’s efforts to find a new vendor to replace 10,000 aging electronic voting machines needs a closer look to ensure no single vendor is favored over another, state lawmakers say. Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver, Colorado-based voting machine vendor, is expected to be one of the companies submitting a proposal to the state. Last month, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin asked the Office of State Procurement to issue a request for proposals, or RFP. The contract could be worth some $100 million. In late 2018, Ardoin awarded the same contract to Dominion after it submitted a $95-million proposal, but the Office of State Procurement nixed the deal, according to media reports. One of Dominion’s competitors had complained the documents seeking proposals unfairly favored Dominion by requesting hardware specifications only Dominion could provide. Ardoin defended the selection of Dominion but deferred the matter until the RFP process could be rebooted, as it was on Jan. 27. Ardoin’s office did not respond to The Ouachita Citizen’s request for comment. Since the RFP controversy in 2018, Dominion became the subject of national headlines following the presidential election last November. After losing the election to now-President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump claimed Dominion had perpetrated widespread election fraud, specifically that the vendor had switched votes from him to Biden. In response to those allegations, Ardoin and Dominion have each claimed the state’s use of Dominion’s voting equipment in recent elections was safe and secure. Area legislators say their constituents have not forgotten the Trump campaign’s complaints about Dominion. Concerning the mention of Dominion, state Rep. Michael Echols said, “My gut tells me that’s kind of a scary word in the political world, especially if you’re a Republican.”

Full Article: Voting machine bid process sparks concerns | Local/State Headlines | hannapub.com

Louisiana Lawmakers plan review of voting machine search | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Louisiana lawmakers intend a close watch as the state shops for new voting machines, a vendor search that comes in the aftermath of a divisive, partisan national uproar about the mechanics of casting ballots and the equipment used in that process. The solicitation for contractors went out last week, and lawmakers are planning a joint hearing of the House and Senate elections oversight committees on Feb. 19 to dig into the details of Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s effort to replace 10,000 decades-old voting machines. “We as legislators want to be able to tell our constituents that this is a good process and that we are confident in the vendor that was selected. I think part of our responsibility is rebuilding the public trust. I think some of the national issues have caused everyone to have doubts,” said Sen. Sharon Hewitt, the Slidell Republican who chairs the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee that oversees voting issues. Ardoin held a conference call Friday with GOP lawmakers to talk through the search he started Jan. 27 and what criteria a contractor must meet. The Republican elections chief has offered a similar briefing to Democrats, according to Ardoin’s spokesperson Tyler Brey. “As you can imagine, we’ve been getting a lot of calls from legislators who are getting constituent calls asking about voting issues,” Brey said. “We just wanted to provide some information that will maybe give peace of mind.” Voting machine contracts stretch over years, the deals are lucrative and only a few companies offer the equipment. Louisiana is expected to be the only state in the market for new machines this year, putting a spotlight on its work.

Full Article: Lawmakers plan review of Louisiana’s voting machine search

Louisiana renews search for vendor to replace voting system | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Louisiana has resumed efforts to replace thousands of decades-old voting machines, with the state’s elections chief issuing a new solicitation for bidders Wednesday amid a political climate where such contracts are getting intensified scrutiny. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin already was going to face strong interest in his search for a contractor to update Louisiana’s voting system because allegations of improper bid handling derailed a previous effort to replace the machines in 2018. But the Republican elected official’s vendor search is expected to draw heightened monitoring because of the national debate over the presidential election and baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud by former President Donald Trump and his supporters. Ardoin understands the timing isn’t optimal, but he said the bid solicitation has safeguards he hopes will reassure people. Louisiana’s “voting equipment has been around for almost 30 years now, and I just don’t know how much longer they can last without us having major issues. It’s time to do this,” Ardoin said in an interview with The Associated Press. “The timing may not be perfect, but it certainly gives the Louisiana people the assurance that I’m looking at it from the perspective of a secure, safe and transparent process and election system.” Louisiana’s current voting machine contractor, Dominion Voting Systems, has specifically been targeted by conservatives who claimed without evidence that its machines were easily manipulated and somehow to blame for Trump’s loss in other states. Trump won Louisiana’s electoral votes. Dominion has sued Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, for spreading the unsubstantiated claims.

Source: Louisiana renews search for vendor to replace voting system

Louisiana: Legislators want look at Dominion contract, voting machine bids | Zach Parker/The Ouachita Citizen

State lawmakers say they plan to scrutinize the state’s process of seeking proposals from electronic voting machine vendors like Dominion Voting Systems before bids are let sometime this year. After the presidential election in November, the Denver, Colorado-based company Dominion drew the ire of President Donald Trump and others, who alleged the company’s voting software and voting machines were used to switch millions of votes from Trump to the Democrat nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden. The state Senate Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs was scheduled to discuss which voting machine hardware the state would utilize in future elections during its meeting Tuesday. That agenda item, however, was rescheduled because someone in Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s office had tested positive for COVID-19. The Secretary of State’s office administers elections in Louisiana. “The Secretary’s office has been talking about needing to replace our aging voting machines,” said state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell. “They are embarking on a process to do that. I want this committee to have some oversight in that process.” Hewitt chairs the Senate and Governmental Affairs committee. According to Hewitt, she wanted the committee to address how bids would be awarded to companies seeking to provide voting machines and software to the state.

Full Article: Legislators want look at Dominion contract, voting machine bids | Local/State Headlines | hannapub.com

Louisiana: Voting machine malfunctions reported; Ardoin says issue was ‘intermittent’ | Mark Ballard/The Advocate

Voters around the state are complaining Tuesday of voting machine malfunctions, particularly when candidates from different parties are chosen. For instance, one voter at Banneker Elementary School in New Orleans reported that she noticed that after finishing, her presidential choice had been unselected, requiring her to go back and reselect her candidate. The voter told the poll worker, fearing that other voters wouldn’t notice. “So far, we have identified at least four different Parishes where this problem is occurring: Orleans, Lafayette, Caddo, and East Baton Rouge,” Victoria Wenger with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. in New York City said in a statement. “The malfunction deselects or changes voters’ selections for the presidential election, requiring a voter to both notice the malfunction and reselect their presidential votes — sometimes multiple times — in order to ensure that their ballot is completed, otherwise the ballots are submitted with the voter’s presidential choice changed or blanked out,” Wenger wrote. “Although the majority of reports concern the Presidential selection, one report mentioned this issue occurred on down-ballot races as well. It has become very apparent that this issue is not isolated to one or two machines, but rather spread across the state.”

Full Article: Voting machine malfunctions reported in Louisiana; Ardoin says issue was ‘intermittent’ | Elections | theadvocate.com

Louisiana polling places likely to change for some due to Hurricane Zeta | Greg Hilburn/Monroe News-Star

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said it’s likely some voters won’t be able to cast ballots Tuesday at their normal polling places after Hurricane Zeta left widespread power outages and some structural damage in her wake. “It’s too early to say which polling places will not be in service Tuesday, but we’re working to identify them quickly so we have the opportunity to establish alternative locations and communicate that to voters,” Edwards said Friday. “But I’m fairly confident we will have some voters who won’t be able to vote at their normal polling places.” Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, Louisiana’s chief elections officer, is assessing what polling places might be affected through parish clerks of court.” The secretary of state’s office is working in close coordination with local officials to assess the damage sustained by our election partners and infrastructure, including registrar of voters offices, clerk of court offices, warehouses and polling locations,” Ardoin said Thursday. Edwards and Ardoin’s spokesman said it will likely be Saturday before a full assessment can be made.

Full Article: Louisiana polling places likely to change for some due to Hurricane Zeta

Louisiana: Judge rules against Jeff Landry in suit against Zuckerberg-backed nonprofit over free election money | Sam Karlin/The New Orleans Advocate

A judge has sided against Attorney General Jeff Landry in his lawsuit seeking to block millions of dollars in free grants to local election officials, which were offered up by a nonprofit backed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with the stated goal of helping local leaders run elections in a pandemic. Judge Lewis Pitman, of the 16th Judicial District in St. Martin Parish, ruled against Landry in the lawsuit last week. Landry said in an interview he would appeal the ruling. Landry spokesman Cory Dennis added the attorney general expects there to be a hearing in the 16th Judicial District Court in the lawsuit against one of the plaintiffs, the Center for Tech and Civic Life, regardless of the appeal. Local election officials across the state last month applied for the grant money, offered by the Center for Tech and Civic Life, after Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin told the clerks and registrars about the opportunity. Zuckerberg had funded the grants with a $300 million donation to the nonprofit, and followed it up with another $100 million earlier this month after receiving a “far greater response” than anticipated, Zuckerberg said on Facebook.

Louisiana: Emails show how election officials shut down website on National Voter Registration Day | David Hammer/WWL

In mid-August, Louisiana elections officials delayed the scheduled maintenance of the state’s voter registration website from Sept. 8 to Sept. 22, apparently never noticing the move would shut down the site for hours on National Voter Registration Day and cause a political firestorm.Nearly 300 pages of public Secretary of State’s Office emails obtained by WWL-TV through a public records request seem to indicate the scheduling snafu was an honest mistake by election officials who were focused on the Aug. 15 municipal elections and an especially challenging election season. “The 2020 election cycle presented unprecedented challenges to our state, including a global pandemic and two hurricanes,” Secretary of State spokesman Tyler Brey said. “Despite a strained staff, the July and August elections were conducted without incident or error, and the presidential election is being administered with the same level of excellence Louisiana voters have come to expect.” But Democrats expressed suspicion about the motives of the Republican secretary of state, Kyle Ardoin. GOP legislators had pressed Ardoin this summer to make his emergency election plan more restrictive in November than it had been for the primaries and municipal elections.

Louisiana: Mail-in ballots, early turnout up for Louisiana’s locked-in presidential primary Saturday | Andrew Capps/Lafayette Daily Advertiser

More than 191,000 Louisiana voters already have cast ballots in the state’s presidential primary as election officials prepare for Saturday’s in-person voting for a national race that is already decided. Republican President Donald Trump and former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden have their respective party’s nominations locked-in, with the formal convention nominations all that remains. Louisiana voters are casting ballots in the presidential preference. Saturday is Election Day, with the ballot also offering choices for internal political party positions. Polls will be open across the state from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday’s, which will be the first election held in Louisiana since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak in March. State officials postponed the scheduled April primary as most of Louisiana was shut down in the spring. Access to mail-in ballots was expanded for Saturday’s election due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 as the election.

Louisiana: Lawsuits challenging Louisiana virus election plan dismissed | Melinda Deslatte/The Advocate

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s emergency plan for its July presidential primary and August municipal elections, a plan written in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The emergency plan — crafted by Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and approved by state lawmakers in April — increased early voting by six days and expanded mail-in balloting options for some people at higher risk to the virus. Two separate lawsuits filed in Baton Rouge federal court argued the plan didn’t go far enough to protect people from the virus. U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, of Baton Rouge, disagreed in a decision issued Monday that dismissed the consolidated lawsuits and upheld the plan. “The court rejects plaintiffs’ contention that they are being ‘forced to choose’ between their health and voting,” Dick wrote. The 13-day early voting period for the July 11 presidential primary is ongoing, running through July 4. Applications for mail-in ballots are due by July 7.