March 15, 2004
Johnson County Demands Answers From ES&S
By Eric Halvorson and Loni Smith McKown
The Indiana election commission bailed out a company called Election Systems and Software (ES&S) on Wednesday.
ES&S had installed illegal software in touch-screen voting machines used by three Indiana counties last November. On Friday night, Johnson County's election board met with ES&S officials to get guarantees that obligations will be met.
Johnson County election board members agreed to authorize a change in voting machine software for the May primary. “I think we're still in a stupor here as far as moving forward,” said Jill Jackson, Johnson County clerk. But they have to wait until ES&S meets state election commission requirements.
“We do need to work out the language, but we just assume that won't be an issue,” said Toby McClamroch, ES&S attorney. That language is for a $10 million performance bond that will cover any problems or legal expenses that crop up in the May primary.
“Can you tell us that ES&S is going to do everything they can comply? That they're going to comply?” Jill Jackson asked ES&S officials.
Compliance also means a test next week of software illegally used in the November election. “We'll run some votes, print some results. We'll verify that everything's correct,” said Robb McGinnis, ES&S.
But the clerk doesn't trust them. Neither do the members of the Indiana election commission.
“I just think I was absolutely lied to by your CEO and I'm more than on the slow burn about it. I think you guys sat in this room and you all lied to me,” said Brian Burdick, Indiana election commissioner, to ES&S at a meeting on Wednesday. Commissioner S. Anthony Long angrily told ES&S Vice President Ken Carbullido that he would fine ES&S if he could have done so.
“I think quite frankly that ES&S took a whipping the other night and I think that they earned that,” said Jackson regarding the heated meeting on Wednesday.
“God forbid we have a problem in Senator Borst and Brent Waltz's district in Johnson County or something like that where we're all lined up to get sued, all because you derelicts couldn't get your act together,” said Burdick.
“I think that the state election commission shares a lot of the same concerns that the Johnson County election board has,” said Jackson.
”Everything that we've done today is directed at making sure that the election goes smoothly, that it's certified, that it's accurate, and that the voters, every voter in Johnson County has their vote count,” said J. Bryan Nicol, Johnson County election board.
“The Johnson County election board attorney Steve Huddleson and the Johnson County attorney Joe Pitcher have been put on notice and they are paying very close attention to these proceedings,” said Jackson.
“I know if I were county attorney you'd be served tomorrow. And not only would you be sued, you'd be leasing equipment from your competitors to have in place in those counties which they liked,” said Burdick.
On March 17, state election officials will get a demonstration of the touch-screen voting machine with the software used last November. Clerks in Johnson, Henry, Wayne and Vanderburgh Counties are hoping everything will go smoothly. The I-Team will be there and report what happens.
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