The company whose multimillion-dollar contract award to replace Louisiana’s voting machines was scrapped said Wednesday it won’t sue over the cancellation. But the avoidance of litigation won’t immediately restart the state’s stalled work to update its decade-old voting system. Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration voided the contract deal with Dominion Voting Systems in October, with the state’s chief procurement officer saying the secretary of state’s office mishandled the bid process, not following legal requirements. Dominion disagreed. But company spokeswoman Kay Stimson said the Colorado-based vendor won’t dispute the matter in court.
Articles about voting issues in Louisiana.
Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said new voting machines will not be in place for the 2019 fall election cycle when the governor, attorney general, four other statewide elected positions and all 144 members of the Louisiana Legislature will be picked. The machines were supposed to be up and running before next year’s big campaign season, until the purchasing process stalled over concerns that the secretary of state’s office didn’t handle bidding properly. Ardoin has said his office made a mistake during the procurement process, but also blames Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration for the months-long delay and problems. The holdup means there isn’t enough time to purchase the machines and train local election officials to use them before the October 2019 elections, according to the secretary of state’s office.
The office of Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin may have start from scratch on its goal to obtain nearly 20,000 voting machines for the state. Last week, Jay Dardenne, the commissioner of the state Department of Administration, confirmed an Oct. 10 ruling by the chief procurement officer, Paula Tregere, dealing an all-but-fatal blow to the $95 million contract Ardoin had awarded in August. Ardoin announced Aug. 9 that his office had chosen Dominion Voting Systems, one of the largest manufactures of voting equipment, to supply the state with new machines in time for the 2020 presidential election. But Tregere canceled the contract after one of the losing bidders, Election Systems & Software — the largest U.S. manufacturer of voting equipment — objected to the contracting process, arguing the original request for proposals contained specifications that only Dominion’s equipment could meet. The Advocate reported last week that Dominion, whose appeal Dardenne rejected, is still deciding whether to sue the state over losing its contract. The company has until Dec. 12 to file a suit, otherwise the entire bidding process might have to start over, Ardoin’s press secretary, Tyler Brey, told StateScoop.
With a major election year approaching, Louisiana’s work to replace voting machines it bought 13 years ago has remained stalled for months, amid bid-rigging allegations, a voided contract award, and claims of political meddling.
Decision upheld to scrap Louisiana voting machine contract
The Louisiana secretary of state’s office will have to redo its work to replace the state’s decade-old voting machines.
Interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, whose office oversees state elections, has no immediate timeline for restarting the replacement effort as he waits to see if the cancelled contract award will prompt litigation.
That means there’s no schedule for when Louisiana will buy or lease new voting machines, as the state enters a big election cycle, with the governorship, six other statewide elected positions and all 144 state legislative seats on the ballot in October 2019.
Louisiana’s chief procurement officer found flaws with the bid process and scrapped the selection of Dominion Voting Systems to replace the voting machines, saying the secretary of state’s office didn’t follow legal requirements. A Dominion appeal was denied Wednesday.
Ardoin said in a statement he wants to get new voting machines “as soon as possible to continue to keep Louisiana at the forefront of election integrity and security.”
But Ardoin spokesman Tyler Brey said the office won’t determine how to move forward until it learns if Dominion will sue. Under state law, Dominion has two weeks from its appeal rejection to decide if it will file a lawsuit seeking to hold onto the lucrative contract award.
“Until they decide to do that or not do that, the process is not officially done,” Brey said Thursday. “The office is not going to put forward the plans for next steps until this system has run its course.”
The Louisiana secretary of state’s office will have to redo its work to replace the state’s decade-old voting machines, after Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration refused Wednesday to reinstate a voided multimillion-dollar contract award. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne reviewed the decision to scrap the deal with Dominion Voting Systems, and Dardenne said he found that cancelling the contract award was “in the best interest of the state.” “As important as it is for the state to procure high-quality, efficient and reliable voting machine technology, it is equally important that the public have confidence that the voting machines their tax dollars pay for are procured fairly, transparently and in accordance with law,” Dardenne wrote in a letter outlining his decision. If Dominion wants to continue to try to hang onto the lucrative contract award to replace 10,000 Election Day and early voting machines, it will have to go to court. Otherwise, the company will have to bid again in a new process that starts from scratch.
Louisiana: State Supreme Court chief justice says new law on felons voting doesn’t go far enough | The Advocate
A Louisiana law that takes effect in March and will allow felons who have been out of prison for five years to register to vote — despite remaining on probation or parole — doesn’t go far enough to address state laws that “unconstitutionally disenfranchise” its citizens, Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson says. Johnson’s written comments came in a dissent Monday as the state high court denied an appeal filed by a group of felons who challenged a 1976 Louisiana law that barred felons on probation or parole from voting. While that case was on appeal, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law on May 31 a measure allowing felons who’ve been out of prison for five years, but remain on probation or parole, to register to vote.
Louisiana is voiding a multimillion-dollar contract award to replace thousands of voting machines after a key official in Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration found flaws in the vendor selection. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s office will have to redo the bid process for the lucrative work if the decision by Louisiana’s chief procurement officer Paula Tregre stands. “I hereby determine that it is in the best interest of the state to rescind the award made to Dominion Voting Systems,” Tregre said in a 17-page decision released Wednesday night. The decision comes at an unfortunate time for Ardoin, a Republican in office since May who is running in a November special election to remain in the job. Running on his experience, Ardoin has defended the bid evaluators’ pick of Dominion and suggested criticism was “baloney” while opponents have panned his handling of the voting machine replacement.
When Louisiana shopped for new voting machines, the state told vendors it wanted to double the number of machines it uses for elections, a decision that helped drive up the cost of the contract proposals to a higher-than-expected price tag. The secretary of state’s office solicited bids to buy or lease nearly 20,000 voting machines — to replace the 10,000 early voting and Election Day machines it currently has. The agency described wanting to replace voting machines bought in 2005 with smaller devices, improved technology, bolstered security and a paper record of votes. But it didn’t publicize the effort also could double the inventory of machines.
The company chosen to replace Louisiana’s years-old voting machines on Wednesday dismissed suggestions the bid process was mismanaged, saying a losing bidder for the lucrative work offered no “factual or legal grounds sufficient” to disrupt the contract plans. Dominion Voting Systems filed its official response to a protest of the contract award that Election Systems and Software lodged with the state procurement office. Dominion said its competitor simply wants another chance at winning the contract, without offering substantive reasons for throwing out the contract award. “Dominion disputes all allegations of impropriety, undue haste, carelessness or lack of diligence by the state in reviewing the proposals, unfairness, or any other disadvantage claimed by ES&S in its protest,” Trippe Hawthorne, an attorney representing Dominion, wrote in the vendor’s response letter.
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin defended the selection of a vendor to replace Louisiana’s years-old voting machines, saying Friday that the evaluation process was done “with a view to ensuring fairness to all participants.” Ardoin filed his formal response to a protest of the lucrative contract award that a losing bidder lodged with the state’s procurement office. The Republican secretary of state said his office “at all times acted in the best interests of the state to secure the best, most cost-effective voting technology for the citizens.” Dominion Voting Systems was the winning vendor. But contract negotiations with Dominion to replace 10,000 early voting and Election Day machines are stalled while the protest filed by Election Systems and Software is under review.