At Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, a proposal to fund $1.98 million for new voting machines pitted Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho and two commissioners on opposite ends. A brief heated exchange erupted between Sancho and Commissioner Bryan Desloge, who expressed strong hesitance to approve a no-bid vendor contract for 250 new hybrid voting machines that can be independently used by all voters, including those with varying disabilities. Erring on the side of transparency, Desloge and Commissioner John Dailey favored the county issue a request for proposals. Sancho explained only one company in the nation manufactures a modern voting machine to meet the needs of all voters, instead of using separate devices. Sancho said a request for proposals would result in the same company being picked and delay having devices in hand by November’s election.
Under county policy, the commission has the authority to decide if voting equipment will be obtained through “sole source” or no bid or through a competitive bid process. Board materials state the supervisor of elections recommends the no-bid action “as the merits and functionality of Dominion’s ImageCast System are far superior to the only other solution certified in the state of Florida,” which requires two machines.
Sancho said he, along with election supervisors statewide, have eagerly awaited new technology. The county has used the same voting machines for more than 20 years. However, Desloge said Sancho’s request was an example of poor planning and labeled it “a train wreck.”
Sancho, however, countered by saying he couldn’t come to the commission with a request until devices were certified by the state, which happened late last year.