Wednesday, June 21, 2006

 

More on Daniels Decision Making

November 20, 2005: “If I made the wrong decision, the buck stops here. But I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure this works right,” Charlie Daniels said.

June 15, 2006: "ES&S let Arkansas down. They let our election officials down, and they let me down. I am disappointed and frustrated over their poor performance in this state and what I considered to be their cavalier attitude toward managing this project," Daniels said.


What happened between November 20, 2005 and June 15, 2006 to cause Arkansas Secretary of State Charlie Daniels to shift his tone when discussing ES&S? To understand that we need to know the decision making process that went into hiring ES&S to set up the electronic voting system.

There are many confusing items to sort though. First, a Texas firm, Diebold Election Systems Inc. of Allen, Texas, was rated higher than ES&S by a search committee organized by Daniels. Second, every company that sought to have their machines placed in Arkansas hired a representative from Arkansas. Third, many, if not all, companies donated to Daniels political campaign.
[1] And fourth, there were conflicting reports out of Ohio about the two leading candidates.[2]


Diebold scored higher on the evaluation, yet ES&S received the award. Part of the reason was cost. Peggy Gram, Chief Deputy to Daniels, wrote that “we still have some unanswered questions,” but that ES&S is “the cheapest short-term solution for Arkansas, and gives us what we need now.”[4] Note that she did not say “most cost effective” or best solution for the price” or anything like that. No. She said “cheapest short-term solution.” That was forward thinking, don’t you agree?


While every company that wanted to compete for the state’s contract did hire someone from Arkansas to represent them in the process, it was ES&S that hired the friend of Daniels, Andy Crawford. Crawford is no stranger to Arkansas politics. In March 2002, he provided food for a Daniels fund raising event to the tune of $712.50. He also provided a non-monetary contribution to then Republican candidate Janet Huckabee, in her race against Daniels. However, this amount was far less; it amounted to only $400.[5]


Other candidates provided donations to the Daniels campaign. Diebold Optical Scan system - $300 (via Government Solutions, a lobbying firm), Sequoia Voting Systems of Oakland, CA (represented by Mullenix and Associates which had been a contributor previous Daniels campaigns) were in the running, though Sequoia did not submit a proposal. In fact, another candidate that did not submit a proposal was Hart Intercivic which was represented by Martha Harriman. Daniels has stated that besides Crawford, he considers Harriman and former Rep. Ted Mullenix (R- Hot Springs) to be friends.[6] Strange how two of three friends did not submit proposals for their clients, and the one friend that did submit, received the contract.


Finally, in Ohio, 32 of 88 counties joined in a lawsuit to effectively force the State of Ohio to select ES&S over rival Diebold Inc.[7] At the same time, the chief executive officer of Diebold has stated he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes” and that those votes would be for Bush2004. Daniels and his committee seem to be aware of the turmoil between the two companies. Gram wrote in the committee’s 15-page report, “With the high profile newspaper coverage these incidents have had, I believe that it will be difficult to achieve voter confidence in this equipment.” Also, “I fear we will be spending a larger percentage of our time explaining about the company rather training the people.” However, Janet Miller Harris, deputy secretary of state for elections, wrote that choosing either ES&S or Diebold would get criticized by “some vocal activists who are passionate about voting technology issues [and] will be critical of both Diebold and ES&S, and who will allege that these companies seek to engage in malicious vote tampering.”[8]

It is funny, and not in a ha-ha way, that they decided on the lower rated, tied-to-a-friend, donating more, and less Republican choice. Beyond his other ethical problems, Daniels will be haunted by this decision for years to come. Our decision as voters is – Do we want to worry with Daniels problems for four more years?

June 15, 2006: "ES&S let Arkansas down. They let our election officials down, and they let me down. I am disappointed and frustrated over their poor performance in this state and what I considered to be their cavalier attitude toward managing this project," Daniels said.

The problem Mr. Daniels is that you had oversite over the project and failed. Stick with your first statement and be a man about it.

[1] Wickline, Michael R., Voting-machine Firm Good Fit, Daniels Says, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Little Rock, AR, November 20, 2005.


[2] Blade Columbus Bureau, Ohio’s High Court Enters Voting-machine Dispute, Toledo Blade, Toledo, OH., July 15, 2005.

[3] Wickline.

[4] Wickline.

[5] Wickline.

[6] Wickline.

[7] Blade.

[8] Wickline.

See:

http://www.nwanews.com/story.php?paper=adg&section=News&storyid=136981

and

http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050715/NEWS02/507150449


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