Luzerne County's Leonard Piazza Furious at Attempt to Charge $300,000 for Extended Warranty on Touch-Screen Voting Systems...
By Brad Friedman on 7/24/2007, 12:46pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from Houston...

Michael P. Buffer at The Citizens Voice is reporting that Luzerne County, PA, elections director Leonard Piazza is furious at voting machine company ES&S for their attempt to charge some $300,000 for an extended warranty on their voting machines.

Decrying "the mix of deception this company promulgates" and the "unsavory business practices that vendors, such as ES&S, seemingly have a deep commitment to employing," Piazza penned a letter to state officials recently with his concerns.

We have now booked Piazza as a guest to discuss the issue on this evening's Peter B. Collins show, which we have been Guest Hosting. We also hope to be posting his letter in full here, and will update this item with it after we receive it. (NOTE: See update now at end of this article for full letter, and link to the archive of the radio interview with Piazza.)

For now, here's the lede today from Citizens Voice:

In a letter to state officials, Luzerne County Director of Elections Leonard Piazza bashed the company that provided the county’s voting machines and asked for financial help to pay for a three-year warranty priced at more than $300,000.

The county last year spent $2.4 million in federal money to buy 750 touch-screen voting machines from Election Systems & Software, and a one-year warranty has expired on roughly half of the machines and will expire on the rest this year.

“In addition to not being able to meet the financial burden that ES&S is asking us to meet, we cannot individually deal with such a large, multi-national corporation and the mix of deception this company promulgates,” Piazza wrote in a July 19 letter to Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth Thomas J. Weaver and Harry A. VanSickle, commissioner of the state bureau of commissions, elections and legislation.

Piazza asked the state to help ensure “that voting-system vendors doing business here do not have the opportunity to threaten the democratic process with such unsavory business practices that vendors, such as ES&S, seemingly have a deep commitment to employing.”

UPDATE: The two-page 7/19/07 letter from Piazza to state officials, complaining about ES&S and asking for help ends, "As I’ve come to learn from other jurisdictions, once the confidence is lost, it is virtually un-retrievable—and that would suggest that the democratic process itself has been broken." It is now posted in full here [PDF].

My on-air interview with Piazza --- which was both informative, and at times a bit contentious --- from today's Peter B. Collins radio show is now archived online here (in Hour 3).