Thursday, August 23, 2007

ES&S Faces $10 Million Fine in California

by Kyle Michaelis
The Omaha World-Herald's corporate sibling, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), continues to gain negative publicity - even if it never makes it into the Nebraska press (for quite obvious reasons).

After last week's damning report by Dan Rather on the conditions under which their machines are manufactured and the defects in their finished product, now comes word of a very serious failure to properly certify ES&S machines that could end up costing the company millions of dollars.  The Inquirer reports:
The California Secretary of State's office announced today that it is investigating ES&S for allegedly selling uncertified voting machines in violation of state elections laws. ES&S's Automark 100 voting machines have been certified in California since August 2005. However, ES&S is accused of selling its later model Automark 200 machines before they had been tested by the Federal government in August 2006. The Automark 200 machine still has not been submitted to the State for its examination and certification, according to a Secretary of State spokesperson....  
According to California law, ES&S could be fined $10,000 per uncertified machine, or $10 million dollars for 1,000 machines. In addition, ES&S could be required to make full refunds to counties that bought the uncertified machines, which reportedly would cost another $5 million dollars. ES&S could also be barred from doing business anywhere in the State of California for one to three years, which could mean headaches and unanticipated voting machine replacement costs for the 14 counties that currently have ES&S voting machines. It's not known how many such uncertified voting machines ES&S might have sold in other states.
I've called for the World-Herald to divest from ES&S several times out of principle. But, with these sorts of liabilities and this level of incompetence, it might be time to consider divesting to protect their own economic interests.

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