Friday, February 19, 2010

Questions Raised about NYC's Voting Machine Selection Process

Yesterday, Dominion, the manufacturer of one of the two optical scan machines certified for use in New York State, filed suit in federal court to enjoin New York City from awarding a contract to the manufacturer of the other certified machine, ES&S, which narrowly beat Dominion in a city Board of Elections evaluation.

In its memorandum of law, Dominion argues that the Board of Elections ignored procurement laws and procedures and established its own procurement process that did not make clear the criteria for selection. According to the memorandum, ES&S received extra points for optional features that cannot legally be used in New York.

Dominion isn’t the only one suspicious of New York City’s voting machine selection process. Last week, the U.S. Attorney’s office issued subpoenas to several elections commissioners in connection with the machine selection process, and last month one of the lobbyists hired by ES&S to further its bid was indicted on corruption charges.

It is entirely possible that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the Board of Elections, but it seems pretty clear that there could have been more transparency in the process, and, as we’ve written before, the Board could have – and still should – make its contract with either manufacturer contingent on configurations that prevent unnecessary disenfranchisement by overvoting.

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