The office of Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin may have start from scratch on its goal to obtain nearly 20,000 voting machines for the state. Last week, Jay Dardenne, the commissioner of the state Department of Administration, confirmed an Oct. 10 ruling by the chief procurement officer, Paula Tregere, dealing an all-but-fatal blow to the $95 million contract Ardoin had awarded in August. Ardoin announced Aug. 9 that his office had chosen Dominion Voting Systems, one of the largest manufactures of voting equipment, to supply the state with new machines in time for the 2020 presidential election. But Tregere canceled the contract after one of the losing bidders, Election Systems & Software — the largest U.S. manufacturer of voting equipment — objected to the contracting process, arguing the original request for proposals contained specifications that only Dominion’s equipment could meet. The Advocate reported last week that Dominion, whose appeal Dardenne rejected, is still deciding whether to sue the state over losing its contract. The company has until Dec. 12 to file a suit, otherwise the entire bidding process might have to start over, Ardoin’s press secretary, Tyler Brey, told StateScoop.
“If they don’t do it we’re going to look at our next steps,” he said. “People want these new voting machines.”
But either a lengthy court proceeding or a rebooted contracting process is likely to gum up Louisiana’s schedule to get new voting machines out to its 64 parishes, Brey said.
Louisiana’s current inventory of 10,000 devices was purchased in 2005, and consists entirely of touchscreen devices that do not produce paper records of individual ballots, making the state a frequent target of criticism by election-security advocates who argue for voting systems that can be physically audited.