West Virginia election officials are negotiating a maintenance contract for the state’s electronic voting machines. In 2005, under the direction of Secretary of State Betty Ireland, election officials entered a single-source contract with Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems & Software to provide touch-screen and optical-scan voting machines. The deal gave ES&S a virtual monopoly on voting systems in West Virginia.
The deal also gave ES&S exclusive maintenance contracts to take care of the voting machines. Jake Glance, spokesman for Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, said those maintenance contracts are set to expire in September. Glance said election officials are negotiating with ES&S to renew the maintenance contracts.
Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick said she expects the maintenance contract to cost Kanawha County taxpayers between $66,000 and $76,000 a year. “It’s preposterous,” said Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, who has been critical of giving ES&S exclusive rights to West Virginia’s election machines since the company first won the contract. Carper said the company’s monopoly on voting machines allows ES&S to charge whatever they want to service their machines.
“I’ve jumped up and down and sideways about this all along,” Carper said. “What if the company goes out of business? What will [the state] do then?”
Full Article: http://wvgazette.com/News/politics/201103281382