When Louisiana shopped for new voting machines, the state told vendors it wanted to double the number of machines it uses for elections, a decision that helped drive up the cost of the contract proposals to a higher-than-expected price tag. The secretary of state’s office solicited bids to buy or lease nearly 20,000 voting machines — to replace the 10,000 early voting and Election Day machines it currently has. The agency described wanting to replace voting machines bought in 2005 with smaller devices, improved technology, bolstered security and a paper record of votes. But it didn’t publicize the effort also could double the inventory of machines.
Contract winner Dominion Voting Systems estimates the work will cost between $89 million and $95 million for equipment, software, warranties and maintenance.
That projection exceeded prior estimates, topped the money Louisiana has set aside for the work by at least $50 million and raised concerns from lawmakers who don’t know how the state will pay for it.
But the price tag could fall, likely fall significantly, if the state doesn’t double the number of voting machines. Inventory size is one of many points of contention raised by a losing bidder for the work that has filed a formal protest of the contract award.