Louisiana is voiding a multimillion-dollar contract award to replace thousands of voting machines after a key official in Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration found flaws in the vendor selection. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s office will have to redo the bid process for the lucrative work if the decision by Louisiana’s chief procurement officer Paula Tregre stands. “I hereby determine that it is in the best interest of the state to rescind the award made to Dominion Voting Systems,” Tregre said in a 17-page decision released Wednesday night. The decision comes at an unfortunate time for Ardoin, a Republican in office since May who is running in a November special election to remain in the job. Running on his experience, Ardoin has defended the bid evaluators’ pick of Dominion and suggested criticism was “baloney” while opponents have panned his handling of the voting machine replacement.
On Thursday, Ardoin blamed the Democratic governor for tossing the contract award, accusing Edwards of siding with a losing bidder because the company’s lobbyist is an Edwards supporter.
“This decision by Gov. Edwards’ administration is an embarrassment and reeks of old-school Louisiana politics. The governor sided with his political buddies over election security. It’s executive overreach and why the secretary of state is independently elected,” Ardoin said in a statement.
Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, a top Edwards aide who oversees the Office of State Procurement, called Ardoin’s claims “absurd.” He said Tregre made her decision independent of him or the governor. Dardenne said he didn’t even know about Tregre’s decision before the Edwards administration was contacted by The Associated Press.