SCHMIDT: The Voting Machine Bid-Rigging Accusations Color The Secretary Of State Race

In the age of the Russian hacking scandal and constant allegations of voting fraud nationwide, it’s no surprise that Louisiana finds itself in the midst of the region’s latest voting scandal. According to recent reports from Associated Press, Louisiana’s winning voting vendor bid, Dominion Voting Systems, faces accusations of rigging and being susceptible to altering elections.

The state has been working to replace approximately ten thousand voting machines, which have not been replaced since 2005. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin was originally on the committee working to secure a contract for the machines, but was removed with no resistance, as the Secretary of State election is fast approaching. Despite recognizing that it wouldn’t look good for the incumbent candidate to help choose which machines would be voted with, the situation couldn’t help but turn fishy as it has been alleged that the Colorado-based company’s machines were involved in many bid-rigging complaints in the past.

Secretary of State Ardoin denies any fraud regarding the $95 million contract, assuring us that we have nothing to worry about regarding the bid.

A few of Ardoin’s rival candidates took advantage of the blunder to reinforce their own campaigns. Representative Rick Edmonds described the selection process as “tainted”, emphasizing that integrity is imperative when it comes to the office at hand. Representative Julie Stokes also commented on the debacle, expressing that the bid process needs a re-do, this time with more emphasis on transparency when selecting the vendors. Former senator A.G. Crowe was a bit more adamant about solving the mess—he went so far as to call for Attorney General Jeff Landry to launch an investigation into the bid.

Thomas Clark, a lawyer for Election Systems and Software—a company that lost the bid—made the claim that the bid was in fact rigged, and his client company had been shortchanged, so to speak. In his letter to the Office of State Procurement, he called the process ‘clearly and blatantly slanted to accommodate a single vendor’s existing voting system’.

The Secretary of State’s office insisted that a paper trail should be present in all exchanges such as these and will work to ensure one is exposed in future bids to prevent instances such as this one.

With Ardoin assuring the people of Louisiana that there is nothing fishy about the bid process while his opponents insist that there most definitely is, election day is sure to have an interesting outcome. Either one involved party is lying, or this is a false alarm being taken advantage of to undermine Ardoin’s character. Be sure to mark November 6th on your calendars—this race is sure to get louder by then.

UPDATE: A statement from the Secretary of State’s office…

“The Office of State Procurement provided solid guidance every step of the way as the RFP committee selected the best voting machines to keep Louisiana at the forefront of election security and integrity.”

“In a highly competitive environment there are always winners, losers and challenges.  We trust the process and upon further direction from the Division of Administration, I look forward to entering negotiations with the winning bidder and securing the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.”

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