After hearing nothing from the elections office regarding the purchase of new voting equipment since their demonstration of the equipment in February, yesterday afternoon I got notice of a bid board meeting this morning at 10:00. As it happened, I was able to take time off work and attend.
The Voting System RFP (15-0078) was only agenda item. It was perfunctory except for my presence – I asked inappropriate questions. Despite my previous requests to the elections office, I was never notified of any of committee meetings when the responses to the RFP were evaluated. I did not know that they were recommending Election Systems & Software until I attended this meeting. There was a handout listing the various vendors and costs associated with them with and their indicated which they recommended.
One commissioner asked about why not “Everyone Counts, Inc.” which had a lower total cost indicated on the information hand-out they had provided. Tabitha answered saying that system did not meet their basic security requirements and was eliminated for that reason. Their final recommendation was based on an overall score, but neither the scoring criteria nor the relative scores of the competing company were included in the handout.
She was asked about the numbers on the handout, which were not self-explanatory with regard to the totals. Additional information on the number of machines to be purchased was needed to make sense of the totals. She mentioned that one reason they choice ES&S was they willing to buy back our current voting machines. Otherwise, the elections office would have to pay to have them removed because there are security concerns regarding their disposal.
I asked what the cost of using voter marked hand counted paper ballots would be. Ms. Lehman laughed at my question and said she had no idea, they had not bothered to even compute the cost for a comparison. [I had requested that she consider that option when I wrote her months ago offering my services and expertise for that committee.] She indicated that she did not consider hand counting acceptable due to how long it would take, saying that CA was still counting their primary from June 7th. [The Brexit vote was hand counted using voter marked paper ballots and results were available by the next morning.]
I then asked Ms. Lehman why I wasn’t informed of the committee meeting where the recommendations were decided. I was told that was an inappropriate place to ask such questions. I could ask next Wed. at County Commissioner meeting. Personally, I don’t think that would be an appropriate venue either and not the best use of whatever time I will be allowed. I’ll just conclude that she didn’t want me on her committee and was not required to allow the public to attend those meetings.
A commissioner then complimented her on the analysis and the combined expertise of people on committee. [There are no members of that committee listed as having expertise in Quality Assurance, one of my specialties.] The meeting was over at 10:15. The recommendation was accepted and it will be on the agenda for the next county commissioner meeting. I will be there. I’ve requested a copy of the scoring criteria and results. Hopefully, I will be able to ask better questions at the meeting next week.
I would encourage anyone in Wichita free next Wednesday to attend the meeting and let our county commissioners know how dissatisfied we are with our current equipment and how concerned we are about the security and reliability of the proposed new voting equipment.