Subject: US buyers of touch-screen voting equipment
From: Rich Persaud <>
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 04:57:37 -0800


Not until this month did Congress pass legislation to give the states $3.9 
billion over three years to buy new machines and fix their systems...

... Other officials worry about security because the software is 
proprietary information kept by the vendor, so election officials are at 
the mercy of the vendors for their results. This situation also means a 
county has to keep using that same vendor for the lifetime of the machine.

Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, a nonprofit 
organization based in Davis that studies new technologies, is one skeptic. 
"It's not enough to ask voters, `Do you like it?' " she said. "You have to 
ask them, `Do you trust it?' And `Will you trust it if there's a recount? 
Will you trust it if there's no paper trail?' "

...  San Diego is in the market for a vendor that can supply the county 
with 10,000 touch-screen machines and have them up and running by March 
2004. Ms. McPherson said the county expects to pay about $30 million. 
Already, 10 touch-screen manufacturers have submitted bids.

Over the next few years, this process will play out thousands of times 
across the country as others upgrade their equipment to comply with the new 
law. Los Angeles, which is under the same court order as San Diego to 
convert by March 2004, will be letting a contract for $100 million for new 
machines. New York State, which is moving toward touch screens, will have a 
$60 million contract. Combined, the counties and the federal government 
will pay billions of dollars to an industry that has never experienced the 
kind of intense demand it is about to face.

Thomas Wilkey, executive director of the New York State Board of Elections, 
said he had been discussing the coming crunch with his counterparts in 
other states. "What scares all of us," he said, "is that we're all going to 
be in the marketplace at the same time, and even though there are a lot of 
vendors, how much can they really do?"

,,, Experts said that the primary concern with the industry was not so much 
whether the companies could make and deliver all the machines, but whether 
they could field enough competent technicians and project managers to make 
sure they work."

Requirements uniquely in favor of transparent, peer-audited solutions, 
pending important details of lobbyists and hardware partners.