Guest Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org
The community of Gloucester Mass. has a huge environmental disaster on its hands due to a sewage pipe that is leaking into the bay. The community has $150M in unfunded mandates due to the sewage pipe and all of that on an $80M budget.
Now the community, as well as those across Massachusetts, has been told that they must replace all of their ES&S Optech Eagle III-P precinct based optical scan voting machines. ES&S has told these people that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has mandated that those machines can no longer be used. According to the Gloucester Times Daily ES&S has told its customers in MA that "the firm's software 'will not meet federal standards and can't be modified to meet those standards.'"
In fact, the software may not meet the present federal standards that it would be tested against, if it needed to be tested today. However, the software and the machines have worked fine in the past and can probably continue to work for as long as Massachusetts communities want to use them.
This morning I called the Editor of the Gloucester Daily Times. He was interested to learn that the EAC had made no such mandate and that this seemed to be a sales ploy by the vendor. His interest was not unexpected after he ran an editorial in his paper this morning in which he said:
But that is apparently not good enough for the federal government. The city - along with several dozen other communities in Massachusetts and thousands across the nation - has been informed by the manufacturer that it will have to replace them. In Gloucester, the bill is estimated to be around $80,000.
The mandate, from the dubiously named federal Election Assistance Commission, calls to mind one of the more famous quotes of former President Ronald Reagan: "The most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
Then I called the city clerk's office and spoke with the gentleman in charge of voting machines. He said that communities across the state like the III-P's and want to keep them. They cannot afford to buy new machines and they don't understand why they are being forced into that position. He told me that with the III-P's the only failure they ever had was a "read head" that was easy to replace. Newer technology has many more moving parts.
It's amazing that ES&S is clearly misstating the facts and accusing the federal Election Assistance Commission of making mandates that will cost these Massachusetts communities hundreds of thousands of dollars.