With the contract lucrative and available only once every decade or two, vendors were expected to aggressively fight for Louisiana’s contract to replace thousands of voting machines. But the latest search for a company to provide Louisiana’s voting equipment attracted more than just intense competition, also drawing allegations the secretary of state’s office mishandled parts of the bid process and attempted to manipulate the outcome for the winning bidder. The questions of impropriety come at the worst time for Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, the state’s chief elections official. Ardoin, a Baton Rouge Republican who took over the job after a sexual harassment scandal ousted his boss Tom Schedler, is running for the elected position on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Claims the voting machine contract award was mishandled could follow Ardoin throughout his campaign, as he suggests his leadership is needed to keep the secretary of state’s office on a steady keel.
Already, one of his eight opponents in the race, Republican state Rep. Rick Edmonds of Baton Rouge, called the voting machine selection process “tainted.”
Ardoin disagrees with assertions the secretary of state’s office tried to rig the selection in favor of Dominion Voting Systems, who was announced as the winning vendor Thursday. He described the evaluation process as “fair and equitable for all bidders.” He suggested allegations of impropriety were part of an expected hard-fought competition for the high-dollar work.