Texas firm again to provide voting machines and ballots


POSTED: Thursday, March 25, 2010

The state Office of Elections selected the same company that provided voting machines and ballots for the 2008 elections to run Hawaii's mail-in special election for Congress in May and the primary and general elections this fall.

Hart InterCivic, a company based in Austin, Texas, signed an $11 million contract this month to provide voting machines, ballots and election services for the state during the next six years, said Chief Election Officer Scott Nago. Hart was also awarded a $389,000 contract to provide about 350,000 ballots, envelopes, electronic voting machines and counters for the May 22 special election to replace Neil Abercrombie, who resigned from Congress last month to run for governor.

Hart was one of two bidders for the special election contract and was the low bidder, Nago said. The bid appears to be close to the costs estimated by the Office of Elections, he said. The total cost of the special election is expected to be about $920,000.

Nago said ballots for the special election are expected to be printed and mailed by the end of next month. Hart will provide four counting machines for the mail-in ballots and up to 14 direct recording electronic voting machines for the absentee/walk-in voting center at Honolulu Hale.

The awarding of the election contracts follows two years of bid protests, appeals and court challenges to the last election contract and to the use of electronic voting machines in elections.

Hart was awarded a 10-year, $43 million contract in 2008 to provide voting machines for Hawaii. But a competitor, Elections Systems and Software, protested the contract and the state procurement office ordered that the contract be re-bid for this year's election.

Nago said it is not clear why Hart's bid came in much lower than its bid two years ago.

He said ES&S was the other bidder on the primary and general election contract, but the company was disqualified because it wouldn't accept the state's liability requirements.

The state also had to come up with new administrative rules governing elections before awarding the contract after a lawsuit on Maui challenged the use of electronic voting machines in state elections.