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Friday, June 30, 2000

companies assail bid
process, say it
favored ES&S

Star-Bulletin staff


Two companies disqualified from the bidding process to handle Hawaii's elections charge that it was unfair.

Protests were made this week to state officials by Global Election Systems Inc. and UniLect Corp.

The state last week awarded Elections Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb., a $10.1 million contract to run elections this year, 2002, 2004 and 2006.

Frank Kaplan, Global's western regional manger, said the request stated it was for election years 2000 and 2002 with a possibility of extension to cover 2004.

"Global responded, amortized and based all its business decisions upon a two-year contract," and the state is "coming back and saying, "we were just kidding, now we're going to issue an eight-year contract."

Jack Gerbel, UniLect president, said Hawaii called for proposals involving a paper system -- optically read ballot cards. "It's not a system for anyone to be going into, especially for eight years."

The system provided to Hawaii through ES&S electronically scans the ballots.

The state demanded a system that required voters to physically mark a ballot so the state would have an actual record of each vote cast.

He said the request for proposals was a two-year deal that was extended because "the only bidder for that type of system said the only way they were going to make money was if it was an eight-year deal."

Chief Elections Officer Dwayne Yoshina couldn't be reached immediately for comment. But in letters to Global and UniLect earlier this year, Yoshina said the companies' bids were rejected because they did not meet bonding requirements.

Two years ago, seven ES&S vote-counting machines malfunctioned during the general election, which forced the Legislature to demand a recount, called by the state auditor the "most rigorous" vote audit in U.S. history.

The recount found the first tally to be 99.8 percent accurate.

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