State lawmakers say they plan to scrutinize the state's process of seeking proposals from electronic voting machine vendors like Dominion Voting Systems before bids are let sometime this year.
After the presidential election in November, the Denver, Colorado-based company Dominion drew the ire of President Donald Trump and others, who alleged the company's voting software and voting machines were used to switch millions of votes from Trump to the Democrat nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.
The state Senate Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs was scheduled to discuss which voting machine hardware the state would utilize in future elections during its meeting Tuesday. That agenda item, however, was rescheduled because someone in Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin's office had tested positive for COVID-19. The Secretary of State's office administers elections in Louisiana.
“The Secretary's office has been talking about needing to replace our aging voting machines,” said state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell. “They are embarking on a process to do that. I want this committee to have some oversight in that process.”
Hewitt chairs the Senate and Governmental Affairs committee.
According to Hewitt, she wanted the committee to address how bids would be awarded to companies seeking to provide voting machines and software to the state.
As reported by The (Baton Rouge) Advocate, Dominion previously won a $95-million bid to sell 10,000 voting machines to the state but the Office of State Procurement rejected Dominion's bid. Election Systems & Software LLC, one of Dominion's competitors in the bid process, complained the documents advertising for bids favored Dominion, The Advocate reported.
Legislators speaking with The Ouachita Citizen say they expect the procurement office to begin a second round of seeking bids and may even advertise for bids as soon as this month, though some hope the bid process is paused so more discussions can take place.
“It's something we need to take a look at,” said Rep. Foy Gadberry, R-West Monroe.
Gadberry serves on the House and Governmental Affairs Committee that also has oversight on state elections.
State Sen. Glen Womack, who serves on the Senate and Governmental Affairs committee with Hewitt, told The Ouachita Citizen he and others had received numerous inquiries from constituents who expressed concerns about Dominion's role in Louisiana's elections.
“We will shed some light on that process,” said Womack, R-Harrisonburg. “Like many others, the Dominion machines has good, bad and ugly publicity. It is $100-million contract, and we need to vet that.”
Womack noted the state had a reputation for administering secure elections.
“We want to keep that record,” he said. “We want to take a close look at the bid process on behalf of the people and verify it will help us run a strong election process.”
According to Womack, a meeting could be held in a few weeks.
After the presidential election, Ardoin sent a letter to John Poulos, chief executive officer at Dominion Voting Systems, apparently asking Dominion to help him defend Dominion's role in the state's election process.
In his Nov. 12 letter, Ardoin acknowledged allegations about last-minute software updates, incorrect transmission of results and other errors and malfunctions in the presidential election, especially as alleged in states like Michigan and Georgia.
“As a state that currently uses Dominion voting machines during the in-person early voting period and on Election Day, I want to reassure the voters in my state that their vote is safe, secure and counted accurately,” Ardoin wrote.
Poulos responded in a Nov. 16 letter, claiming there “absolutely no credible reports of errors, glitches, or malfunctions in Dominion's software and voting equipment.”
“Ballots were accurately tabulated in all 28 states that we service, with results that are 100 percent auditable,” Poulos wrote. “In Antrim County, Michigan, a clerical error in reporting unofficial results on Election Night was determined to be the result of a user error that was quickly identified and corrected, did not affect the way ballots were actually tabulated, and would have been identified in the county canvass before official results were reported even if it had not been identified earlier.”
As of press time Tuesday evening, The Ouachita Citizen had not yet received a response from the Secretary of State's office concerning different questions about Dominion and the voting machine equipment bid process.