Common Cause Delaware has been closely following the state of Delaware’s work to purchase a new voting system. For the past 18 months Common Cause has attended election system demonstrations, met with state election officials and state legislators, held public forums and worked with the media in our effort to be a voice for transparency and election integrity. CCDE was able to obtain the voting system bids from the Office of Management and budget in late July. Those bids came to the Department of Elections in January of this year, and at that time only the names of the vendors were released to the public. After our requests to see the content of the bids were rejected, we made a FOIA request for the information contained in the bids so all Delawareans would know the possible options for our new voting system. Many states are replacing their aging voting systems and Delaware is one of only five states that still operate with machines that have no paper trail. Delaware first used the voting machines in 1996 and we will be voting on those same machines in the 2018 elections.
The Office of Management and Budget rejected our FOIA request and Common Cause then appealed that finding to the state attorneys general in June of this year. When Chief Deputy AG Goldstein found that OMB was erroneously withholding the information, we immediately asked for the records to be released but OMB then claimed they must redact the documents for proprietary information and that they would not be available until mid-July.
Common Cause did not receive the bid information until July 30. These months of delay meant the public and our organization were unable to use the information during the legislative session when decisions about how much Delaware can afford to spend on the new system were being made.