Maker of Voting Machines Takes Aim at Cook County Contract

CHICAGO (CN) – A supplier of election equipment brought a federal complaint in protest of the more than $30 million contract that Cook County, Illinois, is set to iron out Wednesday with another vendor.

One of the voting machines offered by Election Systems & Software, which brought a federal complaint against Cook County, Illinois, on Sept. 25, 2018.

As alleged by Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software, the state should not even have allowed Dominion Voting Systems to bid on the contract because the Illinois Board of Elections has not certified the latter’s system.

Represented by the firm Vedder Price, Election Systems & Software filed its suit Tuesday in Chicago.

ESS, as the plaintiff abbreviates its name in the complaint, notes that Cook County put out the request for proposals early last year with an eye toward

purchasing or leasing a blended voting system that would feature both pen-marking and touch-screen ballot technology.

Cook County had 23 requirements for the contract proposals, but ESS says that state testing of the Dominion equipment “revealed a voting system that was woefully unprepared to support the needs of the second most populous county in the country.”

Among other problems, the Dominion system failed to properly scan paper ballots “if fed into the reader face up and head first,” according to the complaint.

More troubling, according to the complaint, was the tendency of the Dominion system to “automatically produce two signed and valid ballots” if a paper jam arose in the printing process.

“Rather than require that DVS correct this serious problem before obtaining certification, the evaluators provided some possible solutions and recommended the system receive interim certification,” ESS says.

ESS says the county’s contract award violated state law and should be reissued to the next qualified bidder.

The Cook County Board is set to vote on the election equipment contract at its Sept. 26, 2018, meeting.

Cook County defended its process in a statement, saying the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer denied the protest by ESS after considering it with due diligence.

“Further, the OCPO has resolved the protest and pursuant to the ordinance, the chief procurement officer is required to submit the contract to the board, through its finance committee, for approval and authorization for the CPO to execute the contract,” the county added.

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