2006 Election 'Train Wreck' Continues as Company Fails to Meet Obligations in Yet Another State
Complaint Latest in Growing String of Legal Battles, HAVA-Related E-Voting Meltdowns Around the Country...
By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2006, 12:41pm PT  

In the latest amongst a spate of lawsuits being filed against Electronic Voting Machine Companies around the country, the Oregon Sec. of State has announced today that they have filed a complaint against Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) for breach of contract in failing to provide the state with disabled-accessible voting machines, as promised, in time to meet the January 1, 2006 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) deadline.

The complaint, filed yesterday on behalf of the state of Oregon in Marion County Circuit Court, is downloadable here in full [PDF, 8 pages].

In a statement just issued by the office of Bill Bradbury, Oregon's Sec. of State, he said, "I'm disappointed in ES&S. They agreed to provide us with voting machines, they didn't follow through on that agreement, and that failure directly punishes people with disabilities."

The press release goes on to explain the history of ES&S's broken commitment to provide disabled-accessible electronic AutoMark voting systems to the state in what seems to echo problems that ES&S and several of the other electronic voting machine vendors are now having in meeting contractual obligations all around the country. The problem in Oregon is just the latest to come to light, as the voting machine vendors have been snatching up any and all available agreements with states, in light of Election Officials' attempts to comply with various mandates set forth, and funded by federal tax dollars, in the disastrous HAVA legislation of 2002. John Gideon, has written several articles on the epidemic recently for BRAD BLOG; two them are here and here.

As the Oregon Secretary of State's release explains:

ES&S submitted the winning bid to a request for proposals issued by the Secretary of State in July 2005. In that bid, ES&S agreed to all of the standard state contract terms, and agreed to provide one million dollars worth of AutoMark touch-screen electronic voting machines by the January 1, 2006 federal deadline.

On January 10, 2006, ES&S informed the Secretary of State that it would not agree to the terms of the contract, and would not deliver the voting machines unless the Secretary changed the terms of the contract. Bradbury refused to alter the contract to meet ES&S's demands, which then led to this lawsuit.

"We will not leave our elections in the hands of companies that do not follow through on their obligations, and we will not be coerced into altering our contracts," said Bradbury.

In addition to failures to meet such obligations as simply providing hardware and software as promised to states and counties, companies such as ES&S, Diebold, Sequoia Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic, have failed across the country to provide hardware and software that actually works and actually counts voters votes accurately as they intended to cast them.

HAVA was passed in 2002 by Congress after efforts led by Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) --- and funded by Diebold lobbyists including Ney's former chief of staff, David DiStefano --- convinced lawmakers that the bill would correct perceived problems revealed with voting systems during the 2000 Florida Election debacle.

The bill, which cleverly includes a provision requiring at least one disabled-accessable voting device in every American polling place as of 2006 --- a provision which has led jurisdictions to believe they must upgrade their voting equipment to use poorly designed, secretive and hackable electronic voting devices --- has been an unmitigated disaster so far.

The Oregon lawsuit is just the latest in a growing array of suits filed by voters and election officials around the country in light of HAVA implementation that has seen officials scrambling, apologizing, making excuses and, in many cases, left to come up with alternate plans to carry out impending primary elections in 2006. Voters, in the meantime, have been largely ignored, left hanging, and crossing their fingers in hoping that somehow their vote might be counted accurately this year --- or even counted at all. Unfortunately, given the way most of the new voting systems work, there is little or no way for those voters to have even the slightest clue whether or not their vote will be counted at all.

Amongst just some of the lawsuits and other legal proceedings now underway in light of HAVA implementation around the country...

  • ALASKA: Democratic Party files suit against state to release Diebold voting data from 2004 Election.
  • CALIFORNIA: Voters file suit against SoS and Election Registrars to decertify Diebold machines.
  • FLORIDA: Leon County Supervisor of Elections begins legal action against Diebold for breach of contract after machines found to be hackable; Attorney General subpoenas Voting Machine companies in investigation of possible collusion.
  • ILLINOIS: Republicans ask for 20% recount after Sequoia machines fail in Cook County Primary Election; Democrat says he may file suit on behalf of both Republicans and Dems across state.
  • INDIANA: Sec. of State announces hearings, possible civil fines against ES&S.
  • MARYLAND: Republican Governor declares "no confidence" in paperless Diebold systems; Democratic-run House votes 137 to 0 to ban them.
  • NEW MEXICO: Voters file suit against state to decertify Sequoia machines; Legislation enacted outlawing paperless touch-screen systems.
  • NEW YORK: U.S. Dept. of Justice threatens state with lawsuit for HAVA non-compliance.
  • PENNSYLVANIA: Voters file suit against Allegheny County, PA and US Dept. of Justice in re: ES&S machines
  • TEXAS: Statewide Election Contest filed by Republican Supreme Court Justice after ES&S, Hart InterCivic machines failed across state in March 7th primary.
  • In addition to the state and county suits, a class action Securities Fraud complaint has been filed by shareholders against Diebold for, amongst other reasons, failing to disclose known problems with their electronic voting systems. Additional legal proceedings are currently in the works in several other states as well, The BRAD BLOG has learned, and so far we've only had two of 50 state primaries in 2006, the first year that HAVA kicks in in full. Both primaries so far, in Texas and Illinois, revealed massive electile dysfunctions as machines failed, tabulations were found to be inaccurate, and final results were delayed due to numerous equipment problems.

    Stay tuned to The BRAD BLOG for (unfortunately) virtually exclusive continuing coverage of America's 2006 E-Voting Meltdown...