Arkansas: Report On Primary Meltdown Rips ES&S by Warren Stewart


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July 23, 2006 —Secretary of State Charlie Daniels and a bipartisan Voting System Performance Review Committee are reviewing a report submitted by InfoSentry Services that analyzed Arkansas's recent primary and run-off elections. The report recommended that Arkansas renegotiate its contract with Election Systems & Software (ES&S) as a result of problems that ranged from reports of a lack of training and difficulty reaching vendor employees to delivery trucks that showed up unannounced and misprinted ballots repaired with correction fluid.

According to Daniels, the report stated

"Elections Systems & Software did not commit adequate resources to the Arkansas voting system project until after other states' elections concluded [even when those other state's contracts were signed after Arkansas's], which was too late to allow sufficient testing, sufficient equipment programming, and ballot printing to meet critical early voting, absentee, and Election Day deadlines."

In response to this finding, the report recommends

"ES&S...document to the State the names of every person at ES&S working on any component of the Arkansas voting system implementation project."

In an article in the Helena Daily World, one county official described the experience of working with ES&S, "This was the most disorganized bunch ever to run an election in Arkansas. They were untruthful in their responses. Their performance left the burden of this election on us and greatly increased the cost."

As reported in the Northwest Arkansas Times:

"By about the middle of April, it started to become evident there were very serious problems," he told the committee.

Election Systems and Software's project manager for Arkansas sometimes spent more than 20 hours a day programming electronic ballots, he wrote. The project manager was not identified in the report, which also left out county officials' names, but Newkirk identified her as Karen Hoyt-Stewart when asked by the committee.

He also wrote that the state wasn't notified of staffing changes and recommended that Election Systems and Software alert the state of any such changes. Other recommendations included having the company stick to its delivery schedule and explain how it would avoid equipment delays and technical glitches.

Among the problems the report listed: Counties sometimes didn't know when voting machines were to arrive, until the truck showed up; invoices from the company lacked details showing exactly what was being billed; and ballots were misprinted repeatedly in cases.

"On one site visit, we saw a county that had been reduced to using cut-and-paste techniques, along with 'white out,' in order to produce ballot master sheets from which to make ballot copies during the runoff election," Newkirk wrote.

The report stopped short of recommending that the state terminate their contract with ES&S.

"We see no reason that Arkansas' statewide voting system...cannot move forward to a successful general election," said Newkirk. "Would we recommend getting rid of the vendor if we felt the vendor could not perform? Yes," he told the panel. "We don't believe that's the case here."

The report recommended that ES&S be required to list how it would avoid future equipment delays and machine failures, and requiring the company to stick to its schedule for equipment deliveries. The report also said the state needs to work with the firm on more training for county election officials.

Daniels said, "Time is of the essence as far as making sure we have a good election this fall."

The secretary of state's office will issue a formal response to the report at the July 31, 2006, meeting, Deputy Secretary of State Janet Harris said.




Name: Joyce McCloy

Date: July 24, 2006

Time: 19:33:57

Comment: This was a big IT project, and Arkansas SoS left it all up to ES&S. They saw the train wreck coming, and instead of preparing contingency plans, they ended up with county election directors making ballots with their PCs, and printing them off of office computers. North Carolina was prepared as of December 1, 2005, in the event the vendor could not deliver and prepare for our state by early voting in April. The SBOE said that we might be voting on hand-counted paper ballots if logistics did not work out. This is what Daniels should have done. Instead, he hired Glenn Newkirk to do a review of this. The vendor was badly overextended, but the buck stops with Daniels. Missed deadlines were definitely happening, but no backup plan set into place. Where was Arkansas' Project Manager, or did Arkansas rely completely on ES&S?



| EJF Home | Where To Find Help | Join the EJF | Comments? | Get EJF newsletter |


| Vote Fraud and Election Issues Book | Table of Contents | Site Map | Index |


| Chapter 12 — Voting Problems In The 2006 Elections |

| Next — Daily Voting News For June 7, 2006 by John Gideon |

| Back — Stealth Elections |


Added July 24, 2006

Last updated 6/14/09