Voting machine firm will pay up
A voting machine manufacturer has agreed to pay California $3.2 million to settle a lawsuit claiming it sold unauthorized machines to Colusa County and four other counties.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen sued Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems & Software Inc. in November 2007. She alleged the company sold 972 machines that the state had not tested and certified.
Colusa County bought 20 of the AutoMark A200 machines before the 2006 elections and deployed one for each of its 17 voting precincts. The machines allow blind and vision-impaired voters to cast their ballots unaided through vocal cues, a requirement at polling places under federal law.
ES&S also sold the AutoMark A200 machines to San Francisco, Marin, Merced and Solano counties.
Bowen has said some were used in the November 2006 election. Her lawsuit initially sought $15 million from ES&S in fines and forced refunds to the five counties.
In a statement, ES&S said the A200 had been approved for federal use and was "inadvertently deployed" in California. The machines have since been authorized, but the San Francisco Board of Supervisors later scrapped all 558 of their ES&S machines.
Colusa County will continue to use the ES&S machines for the vision-impaired, but Clerk-Recorder Kathleen Moran called such state oversight appropriate.
"There's a reason for (the rules) and people need to do it right," she said Monday. "It would be comforting to the public that certain standards are set and someone's making sure they're being met."
Appeal reporter Howard Yune contributed to this report.