Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Rokita Lets ES&S Off With A Hand Slap

Secretary of State Todd Rokita (R) has reached a settlement with Elections System & Software (ES&S) that involves no fines or judgments against the company. Back in April, Rokita filed a complaint against ES&S with much fanfare, citing the company for 30 possible violations occurring in Marion, Johnson and St. Joseph Counties, three of the 27 counties in which ES&S furnishes electronic voting systems. Back then Rokita said, "Hoosiers deserve voting systems that comply with the high standards mandated by Indiana law," said Rokita. "The May 8th hearing is a mechanism for voters, election administrators, and vendors to know that Indiana will hold accountable, where appropriate, those who wrongly put at risk the integrity of our voting process. "

Rokita's press release noted that Indiana law allowed the Secretary of State's office to issue civil penalties of up to $300,000 for each finding of a voting machine vendor that knowingly, negligently or recklessly sold, leased or allowed to be used equipment in violation of Indiana law. But he has reached a settlement that involves no civil fines or admissions of wrongdoing on the part of ES&S despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

In lieu of any civil fine or judgments of wrongdoing by ES&S, Rokita is allowing the company to contribute $750,000 to the state and counties for election-related efforts. One-third will be diverted to a state Voting System Technical Oversight Program, which will "provide technical support with election equipment and help establish voting system standards." The balance will be divided up among the 27 counties which contracted with ES&S "to pay for training videos, onsite support and additional services such as ballot layout assistance and voter outreach through the 2007 elections, especially for disabled voters." The company has also promised Rokita that it will add staff across the nation to support its software.

An AP story quotes Rokita as saying of the deal he struck with ES&S, "I am confident that future elections will be better." Today's decision is very disappointing. When you consider how many millions of dollars Indiana counties have paid out to this company for shoddy performance which could have potentially compromised the integrity of our state's election system, today's announcement amounts to little more than a slap on the hand. ES&S will be able to tell the world when asked about its problems in Indiana that an investigation of the company was concluded with no civil fines and no findings of wrongdoing on the part of the company--this in spite of overwhelming evidence of election law violations by the company. As the AP notes, election workers in Clark, Harrison, Jackson and Washington counties had to manually enter votes for each candidate in each precinct. So much for Rokita's promise to hold the company accountable.

An investigation of a local vendor, MicroVote, is ongoing.


Anonymous said...

"The corrupt insiders are masters at the game of smear. Eric Dickerson is just the latest in a long list of victims on that score. If only there were real reporters who still investigated public corruption and avoided the lure of these useless sideshows the corrupt insiders feed them for easy consumption, more good people might enter politics. But as long as the mainstream media continues to reward corrupt insiders while shredding newcomers on a whim, that's not going to happen."

Amen, Gary! What a perfect description of the collusion between corrupt insiders and their lazy media enablers.

Anonymous said...

Todd is on the ballot this fall.

He deserves to be turned away. This is disgraceful.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I should point out that Rokita was witholding from the counties over $1 million in federal funds which was needed by the counties to pay outstanding bills owed to ES&S for their problem software. So ES&S will have $245,000 in hand from those payments to hand over to the state for the special fund. The balance owed to the counties, however, is in the form of services and not cash payments. I would question whether the value of those services is actually as high as it has been pegged by the Secretary of State in this settlement.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a cozy deal to me.

Has anyone researched the vendor's political contributions in Indiana?

The minimum fine should've been 1.5 times the outstanding balance due them. Otherwise, isn't it just transferring money from one invoice to another?

By my math, the vendor is ahead a quarter million or so.

Mike Kole said...

This issue sure started with a lot of bluster, and ended with a whimper.

When the original announcement was made,I was concerned that the fines and jail time faced by the vendors was too much. There are very few vendors, and especially if it would later be found that the vendors were innocent, all vendors might look at Indiana as a state too hostile to do business in. Then what would we do for an election?

But, to wind up like this sure looks like a lot of grandstanding on the front end, and a lot of sweeping under the rug at the back end. Somebody's trying to save face here, eh?