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System selected to record voters


Arkansas Democrat Gazette   January 11, 2005

Secretary of State Charlie Daniels said Monday that he plans to award a $4.9 million contract for a new centralized statewide voter registration system to Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb.

Daniels? office hopes to award the contract after negotiations that could last roughly 30 days, said Janet Miller, deputy secretary of state for elections and communications.

Daniels ed the company?s proposal over those submitted by Saber Consulting of Salem, Ore., and Accenture LLP of Reston, Va., which manages the state?s current voter registration system.

Saber submitted a $3.5 million plan and Accenture an $8.8 million plan, Miller said.

Daniels said the Power-Profile system of ES&S is successfully operating in New Mexico and being imple- mented in Nebraska. The state will buy the system with federal funds obtained under the federal Help America Vote Act, he said. "ES&S? commitment to excellent customer service in Arkansas, their proven voter registration product and experienced project management team set ES&S apart from the rest," Daniels said.

Fifty of Arkansas? 75 counties have the company?s voting machines, according to Daniels ? office.

Miller said Accenture?s proposed system hasn?t been released yet or implemented throughout any state and costs too much.

Saber is implementing its system in Oregon and plans to install it in four other states, she said.

ES&S proposed using the project manager who worked on the system in New Mexico to help implement the system in Arkansas and made a firm commitment to training the county clerks to use the system, she said.

The system must be implemented by Jan. 1, 2006, to comply with the Help America Vote Act. "We felt ES&S could meet our deadline. We were a little concerned the two other bidders couldn?t," Miller said.

Miller said an advisory committee and ion team that included 10 county clerks recommended ES&S rather than the other bidders.

Susan Inman, election director for the Pulaski County Election Commission, said she has no problem with ing ES&S. "From what I understand, it should operate and function quite well," said Inman, who was elections director under Daniels? predecessor, Sharon Priest.

Benton County Clerk Mary Lou Slinkard said she doesn?t know whether she likes ES&S ? system although she?s seen it. "I guess I think if he [Daniels] is going to go ahead with ES&S, that?s what we?ll have," she said. "I think with any new software like that they are going to have some transition times and some periods of if it works, it works, and if it doesn?t, it doesn?t."

While the database in the state?s voter registration system is maintained separately in each county, the new system will be a secure, centralized system that will streamline data management and system operation, said Daniels.

The software will enable county clerks to share information across county lines and thus help them eliminate duplicate registrations and transfer voter registrations from county to county, he said. Officials also will use the software to assign voting districts, qualify candidates and organize elections, he said.

The system will enable state and county election systems to "manage elections more quickly and more easily than ever before," said ES&S President and CEO Aldo Tesi.

Implementing centralized statewide voter registration is one of the two major tasks for Daniels to carry out to comply with the federal law.

The other task is making sure that Arkansas? 75 counties have voting machines accessible to the disabled by the primary election on May 23, 2006.

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