FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 20, 2006
Bradbury Sues Voting Vendor
SALEM – Secretary of State Bill Bradbury has filed a lawsuit against Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), for breach of contract for failure to deliver the electronic voting machines that would allow people with disabilities to vote privately and independently.
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires, among other things, that all states provide people with disabilities the ability to vote with the same privacy and independence as all other citizens by a deadline of January 1, 2006. The federal government can impose penalties on states that fail to meet this requirement, including withdrawal and withholding of federal funds available for elections improvements.
“I’m disappointed in ES&S,” said Bradbury. “They agreed to provide us with voting machines, they didn’t follow through on that agreement, and that failure directly punishes people with disabilities.”
ES&S submitted the winning bid to a request for proposals issued by the Secretary of State in July 2005. In that bid, ES&S agreed to all of the standard state contract terms, and agreed to provide one million dollars worth of AutoMark touch-screen electronic voting machines by the January 1, 2006 federal deadline.
On January 10, 2006, ES&S informed the Secretary of State that it would not agree to the terms of the contract, and would not deliver the voting machines unless the Secretary changed the terms of the contract. Bradbury refused to alter the contract to meet ES&S’s demands, which then led to this lawsuit.
“We will not leave our elections in the hands of companies that do not follow through on their obligations, and we will not be coerced into altering our contracts,” said Bradbury.
The Secretary of State has worked closely with the disabilities community in Oregon, convening a regular disabilities subcommittee, and holding a vendor fair in the State Capitol so that people with disabilities could test and offer opinions on available voting technologies. Bradbury is now exploring other options to meet the federal requirement, and assures the disability community that “the ability to vote privately and independently is important to us, and we will do everything we can to make sure that all Oregonians have equal access to the ballot.”
As a temporary solution, the Secretary of State has contracted with IVS to provide a phone voting pilot program in ten counties for the May primary election. The ten pilot counties are: Klamath, Linn, Deschutes, Clatsop, Umatilla, Washington, Clackamas, Lane, Coos, and Yamhill. Voters with disabilities outside of the pilot counties may continue to ask their county elections office for assistance.
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