The relationship between South Carolina’s director of elections and the country’s largest voting equipment company has caught the attention of lawmakers as the state prepares to spend a proposed $60 million to replace 13,000 voting machines. For more than a decade, Marci Andino, executive director of the S.C. Election Commission, served on an advisory board formed by Elections Systems and Software, known commonly as ES&S. Andino received more than $19,000 worth of flights, hotels and meals from ES&S since 2009 to attend regular conferences at the company’s headquarters in Nebraska and other cities across the country, according to records with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. Andino was offered a spot on that private panel in 2005, according to other documents provided to The Post and Courier. It was a year after ES&S won a contract to supply new voting equipment to the Palmetto State and two years after Andino became executive director of the election commission.
The company continues to service that technology in all 46 counties and is one of only a handful of companies expected to submit a bid this year to provide a new generation of voting machines, which lawmakers hope will include a paper ballot trail.
On Monday, Andino confirmed she stepped down from her advisory position with the company last year in anticipation of the state requesting bids for a new voting system. She promised her connection to ES&S would in no way impact the state’s decision over which company wins the multimillion dollar contract.
Andino said she will not be taking part in selecting the winning bid.
“We are running a clean procurement process and we’re proud of that process,” she said.
Some of the lawmakers advocating for a new voting system in South Carolina worry Andino’s connection to ES&S could cause the public to question that relationship, especially if the company is awarded another state contract.