From the archive, originally posted by: [ dot.ike ]

These guys continue to be awesome.

Diebold sues Massachusetts for “Wrongful Purchase” (of competitors systems).


(At least we all know bad news takes stock values up a notch, )

Voting device pact at issue
Firm sues over snub by state
By Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff  |  March 26, 2007

Diebold Election Systems Inc. , one of the country’s largest  
manufacturers of voting machines, is scheduled to argue in court  
today that the Office of the Secretary of State wrongly picked  
another company to supply thousands of voting machines for the disabled.

Diebold says it will ask a judge to overturn the selection of  
AutoMARK , a Diebold business competitor, because the office of  
Secretary of State William F. Galvin failed to choose the best machine.

The contract is valued at about $9 million.

William M. Weisberg , a lawyer representing Diebold, said in an  
interview yesterday that the company wants a review of the internal  
records showing how Galvin’s office came to select AutoMARK earlier  
this year.

“We compete against AutoMARK around the country all the time,”  
Weisberg said. “Based on the criteria set out by the Commonwealth, we  
had a fair degree of confidence we’d come out on top, and nothing we  
heard during the process dissuaded us of that confidence.”

Weisberg said Diehold was so stunned it did not get the contract that  
it now believes “it’s worth the time and money” of going to court to  
challenge the contract’s award, even though the company at this stage  
has no hard evidence of unfair treatment.

Galvin yesterday called the Diebold suit “frivolous” and unlikely to  
succeed. “My office made a very reasonable selection after a long,  
open process of evaluating the voting machines,” Galvin said.

“We are entirely confident we will prevail,” he said.

In court filings, Diebold has indicated it will ask a judge today to  
immediately halt further use or distribution of the AutoMARK machines  
to municipalities throughout the state. If a judge issues that order,  
Diehold will then present arguments over the coming weeks on why the  
process was flawed, Weisberg said.

“We want a judge to either order the contract awarded to Diebold,  
based on his review of the proposals, but if he does not want to go  
that far, to at least order a reopening of the competition,” he said.

Weisberg said the company is not alleging any improprieties by the  
secretary of state’s office. Instead, it is saying the office acted  
in good faith but made a mistake in the selection.

The state’s purchase of about 3,500 voting machines for use by  
disabled voters arises out of the Help America Vote Act, passed by  
Congress in 2002. It mandates that states provide the machines for  
those disabled by the loss of a limb or the loss of vision, among  
other disabilities.

Galvin said AutoMARK machines have already been shipped to some of  
the state’s 1,700 polling places for use in spring municipal elections.

The machines were used in a special election in Worcester last week  
and are scheduled to be used today for a town vote in Sudbury.

“I want to get the machines in use quickly in the municipal elections  
before larger statewide elections,” Galvin said. “I see this suit as  
interfering in that.”

The state invited bids from numerous manufacturers before narrowing  
the field to 14 companies, and then to three, Galvin said. While  
price was a key consideration, other criteria were considered, such  
as the quality of machine, security, and service.

Galvin said his office surveyed disabled groups and municipal  
election officials during the evaluation process after letting those  
groups test the competing machines.

He said there was a consensus in favor of the AutoMARK.

Galvin cited as an important factor in favor of AutoMARK its  
machine’s use of one kind of paper ballot for disabled voters and  

He said that gave extra privacy to disabled voters.

“If you happened to have only one disabled voter in a precinct, that  
person’s ballot is easily identifiable,” he said.

The challenge will be heard in the business litigation session of  
Suffolk Superior Court in Boston.

{Sean P. Murphy can be reached at smurphy [at] globe [dot] com [dot]}

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