ES&S responds to voter machine accusations
By Maya Strausberg
November 11, 2007
A company that supplied San Francisco with voting machines for
Tuesday's election has denied any wrongdoing despite accusations
by the city attorney that the machines were not certified by the
Election Systems & Software's comments are in response to
sent by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera on Wednesday
charging the company with material breach of contract.
In a prepared statement, ES&S spokesman Ken Fields said the
company did not wrong the city in any way and did in fact meet
"The fact is (Tuesday's) election in San Francisco went
well and voters had a positive experience at the polls,"
But what occurred at the polling places and what has occurred
since have been two very different experiences, especially for
the Department of Elections, according to Director John Arntz.
Every ballot is being hand counted due to the lack of certification
of the machines, according to Herrera and Arntz. ES&S' alleged
breach of contract comes in part from the company not notifying
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen of changes made to their
AutoMARK ballot marking devices. They lost the machine's certification
but did not inform the city of San Francisco or other districts
using the machines.
Fields said the accusations simply aren't true. "We have
fulfilled state and federal requirements for certification of
our voting equipment," he said. "In fact, the ES&S
AutoMARK used in California has been reviewed, tested and approved
as part of the state's certification process - specifically as
part of the certification of San Francisco's voting system."
Herrera's notice gave the voting machine company until Nov. 19
to supply new machines and pay for any costs accrued by the additional
manpower needed to count ballots.
Although Herrera said ES&S has not yet offered to hand over
the money, Fields said they have indicated that they are willing
to pay for the voting machines that San Francisco borrowed from
Contra Costa County.
"We have also taken numerous steps to help the city and
county of San Francisco meet additional conditions imposed by
the Secretary of State's Office, even though those conditions
were not part of our contractual agreement with San Francisco,"
Fields' statement said. "We have provided additional staff,
equipment and resources to help process ballots 24 hours a day,
seven days a week."
Arntz estimated that the cost accrued from the situation is approximately
$300,000. The city originally bought 565 AutoMARK machines for
more than $3 million, said Herrera.
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