As the Voters Continue to Pay the Price
And as We Continue to Connect the Dots the Mainstream Media Still Won't�
By John Gideon on 4/30/2006, 6:20pm PT  

By John Gideon Executive Director VotersUnite.Org and Information Manager VoteTrustUSA.Org

When asked by a reporter, "Which is harder to manage, your two children or ES&S?" Marion County, Indiana Clerk Doris Ann Sadler told the Indianapolis Star this week, "Oh, ES&S, definitely. My children are really very easy. In fact, at times I think my children would have done a better job with the voting machines. And they're (ages) 7 and 4."

The Electronic Voting Machine Vendor locomotive is still running away down the track at an alarming speed. However, this week some states and county election officials seem to be beginning to notice and are now sending out signals that they intend to either stop the train or � barring that --- at least ensure that companies such as Election Systems and Software (ES&S) do not profit too much from their arrogance, ineptitude and now epidemic failures.

Legal complaints against the company were filed this week in West Virginia and Indiana to add to the one previously under way in Oregon. Threats have been heard from Texas, Arkansas, Ohio and elsewhere. Election officials have been forced to change voting procedures in many states and counties to accommodate for ES&S' growing array of failures.

Meanwhile no one seems to be talking about the people who will be most affected by this train wreck; the voters�

PROBLEMS MOUNT IN SUMMIT COUNTY, OHIO�

Memory card failures, as reported in our previous "Train Wreck" articles have been a huge problem for Summit County, Ohio. This past week the Akron Beacon Journal reported that even after testing and retesting memory cards, they were still failing at an alarming rate. In the last round of testing before next week's primary, 17 memory cards failed. The counties voting machine vendor, ES&S promises to provide back-up cards that are pre-loaded with ballot information for the different county precincts. County election board members have expressed concern for the failures and the prospect that the failure rate of memory cards may prove to be "catastrophic" according to one board member.

Also of great concern to the County Board of Elections is ES&S' plan for technical support for the county. It seems that ES&S has given up on any possibility of not having chaos and they have decided to distance themselves from the county in the bargain. In order to do this, they've come up with a brilliant plan. ES&S has hired 19 students from the University of Akron who will get a one-day training program and who will then be ES&S' technical representatives in the county. One member of the board said, "It's just not right and will not be tolerated. You guys are supposed to be the gold standards of optical scan, and I'm amazed.''

Apparently ES&S has given up on maintaining their reputation in this county. Who ends up suffering for this arrogance? The voters.

EMERCENCY PAPER BALLOTS OK'd IN TEXAS

In an April 24 letter to Texas county elections officials, Ann McGeehan, the Texas Director of Elections authorized the many counties who have not received programming media or paper ballots from their vendor to print paper ballots and use those in elections to take place on May 13.

Though ES&S was not named in the letter there was no doubt that's the company that McGeehan was speaking about when she said:

"We recognize that this kind of service from a certified voting systems vendors [sic] is completely unacceptable and disturbing. We will be pursuing all appropriate remedies from a state level that are available to us."

Also in an editorial from the San Antonio Express-News we learn that Bexar County (San Antonio) is one of the Texas counties involved. The editorial gives a very good reason that the county and its voters should get very good service from ES&S:

Bexar County spent $8 million on the ES&S system in 2003.

But the costs don't stop there. Each time there is an election, ES&S technicians have to program the system and provide technical support.

For example, the March primary cost $57,000 in programming fees, $4,600 in technical support fees and $31,000 in voice-recorded files for disabled voters.

A $184 shipping fee was charged for the voice-recorded files, despite the fact that they are delivered via the Internet, Callanen said.

Beginning in May 2007, the county's warranty with the company runs out. To extend it, the county will have to come up with $185,000 a year, every year.

That is too much money to pay if the company is unable to hold up its end of the bargain.

Once again, who gets hosed? The tax-payers�otherwise known as; The voters.

ES&S MELTS DOWN IN WEST VIRGINA

It was just last week that West Virginia Secretary of State Betty Ireland was finding ways to make excuses for the state's voting machine vendor, ES&S. This week Ireland seems to have opened her eyes as legal proceedings have now begun against the company. Either that, or those around her finally shook her awake and she realized that there were problems that needed her attention. In a earlier this week, Ireland says:

"I am absolutely appalled by ES&S's delays and the hardships ES&S has placed upon this state and our county officials. ES&S's delay in programming ballots has made the process very difficult � it is inexcusable. We feel the court will appreciate the dilemma the delays have placed the counties in."

On Friday the County Commissioners Association of West Virginia announced that they were filing legal action against ES&S with help from the Secretary of State and the state Attorney General's Office.

And in Kanawha County the County Commission President Kent Carper has asked County Manager Brent Pauley to place a check for $1.2 million, that the county owes ES&S, under lock and key in his desk drawer. Carper then told the media, "(The company) has embarrassed themselves. I got a feeling this will get their attention."

INDIANA CERTIFIES MICROVOTE AND ANNOUNCES A COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST ES&S

This week the Indiana Elections Commission took the expected move and certified the software used on MicroVote General voting machines that are used in 47 Indiana counties. According to the Indianapolis Star Commission member Tom John said the commission was making this last-minute certification of MicroVote's equipment not for the sake of the company "but for the sake of hundreds of thousands of voters who otherwise would have had to vote on pieces of paper." MicroVote is not off the hook for violations of state law. There will be investigations by the Secretary of State and the Elections Commission.

At the same time that MicroVote was certified, Secretary of State Todd Rokita
announced
that he had filed a complaint against ES&S. The complaint charges that ES&S has violated state law by providing defective equipment and services. The complaint lists 30 possible violations in 3 counties. Each of those complaints may cost ES&S up to $300,000 in civil penalties for each violation.

Meanwhile, as reported by the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel in another embarrassment for ES&S, they proved again that they can't get much done right anywhere as they incorrectly printed 80,000 paper ballots for Porter County, Indiana. They will replace the ballots and pay for the printing. Maybe the voters in all of the ES&S counties will be able to vote on the machines their tax money has paid for�eventually.

ARKANSAS JOINS THE "TRAIN WRECK"

The Arkansas primary is scheduled to be held on May 23 but early voting is to begin on May 8. So far the Arkansas voting machine vendor; yes, it's ES&S; has failed to deliver all of the voting machines purchased by some counties. They have also failed to provide the ballot programming to many counties.

The Arkansas Leader reports that ES&S has not programmed the iVotronic DREs in Pulaski County which is a problem; and they have failed to program the county's optical-scan machines which is a larger problem because the county cannot test their absentee ballots to ensure they work with the machines. The county is now preparing to hand-count those ballots on election night.

According to the Fort Smith Times Record Sebastian County has the same problems except that ES&S has also failed to deliver the paper ballots they have contracted to deliver. The county commission has decided that they want to be sure they are ready, so they are having their central-count optical scan machines programmed by their previous contractor and their paper ballots are being printed by the printer who used to print their ballots. They hope to be ready for their voters.

Is it too late to avert a disaster in our primary elections? That's probably going to be up to the voting machine vendors in many states and to the elections officials who choose to stand-up to them.

What is the federal Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) doing about all of this? Not a thing that we can see. They are just sitting back and telling the world that they have no power to regulate. The corporate mainstream media? Well, the local, and in some cases state-wide, media are reporting what is happening and editorial boards are doing their thing but the national media is sitting with their eyes closed --- failing to connect any dots whatsoever � and keeping mum on this train wreck in the making.

Ssshh! Don't tell anybody. We'd hate to disturb the voters�