Sarasota County commissioners, at their Nov. 17 meeting, unanimously approved the purchase of a new voting system without a sealed bid process, after becoming dissatisfied with one of the two certified vendors in Florida. The county will pay $1.65 million for the system, to be purchased from Election Systems & Software (ES&S). That purchase will be paid for initially by a loan from the Pooled Commercial Paper Loan Program of the Florida Local Government Finance Commission Program, and repaid over seven years from the general fund. Because there were only two vendors available, one of which had been deemed operationally unacceptable, the county elected not to use a sealed-bid procurement process.
According to Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent, old voting equipment was too fragile to fix, and the November election too close to wait any longer to replace its equipment. Dominion Voting Systems proposed using hot glue to fix components of Sarasota County’s current equipment, but several election officials were skeptical it would work.
“You do not implement a new voting system overnight,” Dent said. “We could not take a risk going into a major presidential election year not knowing how much of the equipment was going to break down.”