Friday, February 29, 2008

Fayette Finalizes Paper Ballot Optical Scan Purchase

In an article titled: Hotel tax gets OK in Fayette Tribune Review, the Fayette board of commissioners apparently voted to finalize the purchase of paper ballot/scanners voting system through vendor Hart InterCivic by entering into a financial contract throuhg an agency.

The interest rate is apparently a different one that was highlighted in an earlier Tribune-Review article. We're looking into why the discrepancy in interest rates over a period of only two days worth of news reporting.

At any rate, the move to purchase the system to supplement the county's years-ago purchase of eSlates is welcomed in the voting and election integrity movement.

Duplicated here a Press Release by VotePA

The VotePA site includes a section which highlights


The organization's website also includes material similar-minded activists may want to weigh in on before the time to do so passes.

Take Action on Emergency Bill to Protect 2008 Elections -- HR 5036

Now is the time to urge your congressperson to get on board to protect the 2008 elections. Ask her/him to co-sponsor the Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act.

The bill, HR 5036, sponsored by Congressman Rush Holt (NJ), authorizes $630 million nationwide to allow - but not require - states and localities to onvert to paper-based voting or to offer emergency paper ballots if using paperless machines; to conduct hand-counted tabulations; and/or to conduct random hand-counted audits.


Commissioners table computer consulting decision
By Amy Zalar, Herald-Standard

...Zapotosky and Vicites also voted to ratify an agreement between the county and Koch Financial of Scottsdale, Ariz. To purchase 113 of the eScan voting machines for a total purchase price of $580,120, using $170,000 as a down payment with the balance to be paid of equal yearly payments of $148,421, beginning in March 2009. The interest rate is 4.23 percent.

Zimmerlink abstained from the vote, saying she was out of the office when the contract was signed, and she didn't receive e-mail notification of it either.

In an unrelated matter, commissioners voted 2-1 to ratify purchase of 113 e-Scan voting machines for $580,120. Fayette will make a down payment of $170,000, then finance the remainder through Koch Financial at an interest rate of 4.23 percent. Three annual, equal installments of $148,432 will follow, with the first payment due in March 2009.


Fayette officials buy paper-ballot machines
Thursday, February 7, 2008

Fayette County commissioners Wednesday agreed to purchase 113 eScan machines, giving voters a paper-ballot option to the eSlate machines in the April 22 primary election.

The purchase was approved by commissioners Vincent Zapotosky and Vincent Vicites.
Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink abstained, stating that insufficient information had been provided for her to make an informed decision.

With eScan, voters mark their choices on a paper ballot and feed the ballot into the machine, which stores the results on a flash card.

"I think the people of Fayette County have the right to the best system available," Vicites said.

"Turning or frustrating someone away from voting for the next president of the United States is a crime itself," Zapotosky said. "I don't think we rushed into anything. ... To me, it's the right thing to do and I'm proud to say we did pass the resolution."

The county spent $1.22 million two years ago to replace its 30-year-old, lever-voting system with eSlate machines. Voters use a dial to rotate through the choices in each race before pressing a button to select a candidate.

Most of the funding was covered by the federal government through the Help America Vote Act of 2002, intending to fix voting irregularities during the presidential election in November 2000.

But some people found the eSlate system confusing, and long waits resulted at some of Fayette's larger precincts.

Yesterday, the board agreed to purchase the eScan machines at a cost of $580,000. Officials plan to place one machine at each of 103 precincts.
County Controller Sean Lally reviewed a financing plan county officials discussed earlier this week.

Supplier Hart InterCivic will finance the cost over three years, at an interest rate of 4.23 percent.

The county will apply $170,000 of this year's budget, previously allocated for more eSlate machines, to the eScan purchase price.
It will then make three annual payments of $150,000 each to Hart InterCivic, which also supplied the county's eSlate machines.

The commissioners discussed the possibility of selling up to 100 of the eSlate machines for approximately $1,500 each, potentially raising $150,000 toward the cost of the eScan machines.

"We're speculating on revenue (from eSlate sales)," Zapotosky said. "If those funds are available via the sale of eSlates, they will go into the note."
Lally said another funding source would have to be found if none of those machines are sold.

Yesterday's action did not include the cost of 300 to 400 privacy voting booths. Depending on whether corrugated cardboard or molded plastic is chosen, the cost could range from $5,000 to $12,600...

Commissioners approve purchase of voting machines
By Amy Zalar, Herald-Standard
Updated 02/06/2008 09:00:22 PM EST

Saying it would give voters a choice in the upcoming April 22 presidential primary, Fayette County Commissioners Vincent Zapotosky and Vincent A. Vicites took action Wednesday to purchase voting machines that are essentially a paper ballot with a scanner to use as an option to the county's electronic machines.

Following a lengthy discussion about the issue, Vicites and Zapotosky approved a motion to purchase 113 eScan machines from Hart Intercivic to receive in time for the primary at a cost of $580,120. The figure includes 103 machines to place at each of the county's precincts, as well as 10 additional machines for backup.

Commissioner Angela M. Zimmerlink abstained from the vote, saying there were too many unanswered questions...

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