Paper Ballots Are Used in the Meantime as ES&S Succeeds at Failing Yet Again...
THE GOOD NEWS: A Local TV News Outlet That Reports Actual News!
By John Gideon on 4/5/2006, 8:15am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

Proving that local TV News stations actually can serve their viewers by actually investigating stuff that matters, and then reporting on it, Indianapolis' WISH-TV 8 does it again. In yet another report on local election problems, WISH-TV has been keeping their viewers informed with a series of stories on voting issues.

"Well, once again, a Voting Machine Company is breaking Indiana law and violating county contracts," the story by reporter Pam Elliot began.

Last night, WISH TV 8 reported on the failure of Elections Systems & Software (ES&S) to perform up to their contract with their customers. That contract: to provide ballots to voters and touch-screen voting equipment that actually works.

Johnson County Indiana was supposed to have their ES&S iVotronic DRE (touch-screen) machines set-up and in use for "absentee voting". However, contrary to their contract and, as WISH TV reports, in violation of state law, ES&S has failed to program the counties "smart cards" with ballot definitions. Which means the voting machines are of no use.

Also missing are printed paper ballots for Johnson County and nearly two-dozen other counties across the state. Which means that in order for these counties to conduct "absentee voting" they will have to copy paper ballots and provide those to the voters.

But perhaps more troubling, as reported by the WISH-TV 8 "I Team" (Investigative Team):

I-Team 8 has also learned the batteries that came with Johnson County's $2.4 million equipment are old and failing. At least nine other counties have the same problem. If the battery fails, the internal ballots and all the votes cast will be lost.

I-Team 8 asked Jill Jackson whether it was time to rethink the county's choice of vendor. "I am certain that the county commissioners are going to want to revisit this, probably along with a lot of other counties in the state of Indiana," she replied.

And what does the Secretary of State have to say about this situation? He had the same reaction as many who have misinformed their counties into buying voting systems that were not really necessary...

"Although I am concerned about this issue, it is the responsibility of the counties to resolve this with their vendor," said Secretary of State Todd Rokita.

And what does ES&S have to say about all of this? Why, they blamed the counties, of course.

But WISH TV didn't let 'em get away with that. They concluded their report with just the facts m'am:

Omaha-based ES&S has been in trouble with the state at least twice before for not following Indiana law, but it's not the only vendor failing Hoosier voters. The certification expired last October on electronic voting machines made by Indianapolis-based Microvote, used by 45 Indiana counties.

-- WISH TV's written report is here...
-- WISH TV's video report is here...

It seems ES&S has a long and proud history of failing the voters of Indiana. Back in late 2004, just two weeks after the Presidential Election, The BRAD BLOG ran a story highlighting a series of reports from WISH TV filed back in April of 2004. Here's some of our coverage at the time...

The series of reports from WISHTV earlier this year tell of ES&S employees surreptitiously installing illegal, uncertified software, into the voting and tabulating machines in Marion County, Indiana. They then ordered their regional ES&S project manager to lie about it to county officials. She refused. As had her husband in a previous ES&S incident, where he was also a project manager, in a different Indiana county. He was fired for his refusal.

In one of the reports, the Marion County Clerk Doris Anne Sadler is quoted as saying that ES&S "has willfully and purposely deceived me and the Marion County election board...[W]ith complete disregard for business ethics and with intent to deceive, [ES&S] deliberately worked to keep their actions from the Marion County election board and its employees."

The county's election board vice chair added, "Throughout the process, there have been missteps and outright fabrications and mistruths given to us by the vendor implementing the election process."

"Outright fabrications and mistruths" from ES&S?! Knock us over with a feather. See our November '04 story for more details and links to the excellent WISH TV video reports from April.

Feel free to write a thank you note to reporter Pam Elliot for knowing what important news looks like and then caring enough to actually report on it.

Other than that --- sssshhhh --- don't tell anyone! It's better if nobody learns about this stuff.

(Additional snark for this story provided by Brad)