Secretary Cox Announces Selection of Diebold Election Systems to Provide New Statewide Electronic Voting System
Georgia is First in the Nation to Acquire Uniform Electronic Voting System to Improve Accuracy, Convenience and Accessibility
$54 Million Voting Equipment Contract Award is Largest in U. S. History
System Will Debut During November 5th 2002 General Election
ATLANTA … At a Capitol Hill news conference this afternoon Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox announced that the state has awarded a $54 million contract for a new statewide electronic touch screen voting system to Diebold Election Systems, Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of Diebold, Incorporated. Secretary Cox was joined in making today’s announcement by Georgia’s Chief Information Officer and Executive Director of the Georgia Technology Authority Larry Singer, whose agency played a leading role in managing the bid process and evaluating vendor proposals.
Under the terms of the contract, Diebold Election Systems, a leading manufacturer and installer of electronic voting systems, will provide Georgia with 19,015 touch-screen voting units for balloting in the state’s 2,823 precincts in all 159 counties. Diebold will also provide some 400 optical scan ballot readers for absentee balloting. The systems will be operated and managed by the company’s Global Election Management (GEMS) software. Under terms of the agreement, Diebold will also provide training and support to election offices in every Georgia county.
Diebold was one of nine election equipment manufacturers who submitted bids for consideration by the state.
Georgia is one of only three states that has moved to upgrade and modernize voting systems in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election and Florida recount. Florida passed legislation requiring all counties utilizing punch card systems to adopt either new electronic voting systems or precinct-based optical scan; upgrades have been made on a county-by-county basis.
Maryland, like Georgia, has approached the problem of antiquated election equipment with a multi-jurisdictional approach and is in the process of deploying new direct recording electronic (DRE) voting units in four counties representing nearly half of the state’s registered voters.
Georgia is the only state in the nation to adopt a single, statewide solution for the upgrade of election equipment, to deploy it simultaneously in every county, and to pay for its acquisition solely with state, rather than county, funds.
Federal election reform legislation, which includes authorization for funds to assist states with equipment upgrades, has passed both houses of Congress and currently is in a House-Senate conference committee. Once congressional agreement is reached, Georgia stands to recoup a substantial portion, or perhaps all, of its $54 million investment in new election technology.
The new electronic voting systems will be fully operational and in use for the November 5, 2002 General Election. (As with any major revision in Georgia election procedures, final deployment of the DRE system is pending approval of the United States Department of Justice under the pre-clearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act.)
Georgia began its effort to improve and upgrade voting equipment in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election. An analysis by Secretary Cox found that some 94,000 ballots showed no choice in that year’s presidential race, an undervote percentage well exceeding the national average and that of Florida as well. The study also showed wide disparities in accuracy rates between counties and from precinct to precinct within counties. Secretary Cox’s report led to legislation mandating a modern and uniform voting system for all Georgia counties. In his FY 2002 supplemental budget request Governor Roy Barnes sought, and the General Assembly approved, $54 million in bonds to fund the electronic voting initiative and to deploy it this year. The FY 2002 supplemental and FY 2003 budgets also include a total of $4.5 million for the Office of Secretary of State to fund technical support, election staff training and voter education programs.
Secretary of State Cox’s statement from today’s announcement follows:
Seventeen months ago America received a wake-up call. As the dramatic events in Florida unfolded, intense media scrutiny of the process caused Americans of every political persuasion – Democrat, Republican and Independent -- to ask themselves:
Are elections in my state any more accurate than Florida’s?
How can I be sure my vote was counted?
Why is most election equipment so antiquated?
Would a close race in my community throw the process into chaos?
Isn’t there a better way to cast and count votes?
In some parts of America, policymakers ignored that wake-up call. They hung up the phone, rolled over and went back to sleep.
But not in Georgia.
No, in Georgia, we took the events of the 2000 presidential election as a warning – but also as a catalyst for change. You see, when we analyzed our own presidential election results, we found many of the same problems the nation saw in Florida. And in fact, some of our problems were even worse.
94,000 ballots were cast with no choice that actually registered in the presidential race. That undervote rate was nearly double the national average and well above that of Florida.
We had a crazy quilt of four different voting platforms, including the now infamous punch card in some of our largest counties. Yes, we too had pregnant chads and hanging chads and questions about voter intent.
We had lever machines in use in nearly half of our 159 counties – equipment that hasn’t been manufactured in a generation and that traces its origin to Thomas Edison’s invention in the 19th Century.
We saw wide variations in voting accuracy from county to county, and even from precinct to precinct within counties. Some poor rural and inner city communities even showed undervote rates in the double digits.
And all this was the result of a lack of attention and investment in modern, state-of-the art election equipment. With schools to build and roads to widen and hospitals to fund and so many other pressing public needs, we simply had not taken the time to shore up the very foundation of our democracy – the right to fair and accurate elections.
Yes, I am very proud to say that Georgia did not go back to sleep. We heard the alarm, we jumped out of bed, we put on our work clothes and set about the business of reforming elections.
And it is no exaggeration to say that, over these last 17 months, Georgia became the national leader in the drive to improve and modernize voting equipment and procedures.
Much has happened during that time. But we would not have come so far so fast without the exceptional bipartisan support of members in both houses of the General Assembly, and without the visionary leadership of Governor Roy Barnes.
In Georgia, unlike so many other states, the drive for election reform has not been an argument – it’s been a quiet conversation.
Leaders from both major political parties, and from independent parties as well, have embraced our reform agenda. The 21st Century Voting Commission, an outstanding bipartisan group of Georgia leaders – some of whom are with us today – spent much of last year helping us evaluate options and were instrumental in crafting a recommendation for the future of Georgia elections. I am so grateful to everyone who has played a role in putting Georgia on the path to leadership in election reform.
Today, it is with a great deal of excitement that I announce our new partner in reforming Georgia elections and carrying out the work of making our voting systems more accurate, more convenient and more accessible to every citizen.
Just a little while ago, on behalf of the State of Georgia, I signed a contract with Diebold Election Systems to provide a complete, turnkey electronic voting solution for our state – and one that will be in place in all 159 counties in time for the November 5th General Election.
Folks, this is a very big deal.
At slightly less than 54 million dollars, it is the largest contract for election equipment ever in the history of the United States.
We will be acquiring and putting in the hands of county election officials more than 19,000 electronic voting units for use in Georgia’s 2,823 precincts and some 400 optical scan ballot tabulators to process absentee ballots. And we will also be providing counties with the software and servers to make the entire system work, and work well.
Our contract also includes extensive training, technical support and voter education to make sure the implementation process goes smoothly.
And it’s important to note that, in addition to this contract, the state on its own is committed to spending nearly 4.5 million dollars in the coming months on voter education and training. Our friends at Kennesaw State University, and their new Center for Elections, will play a lead role in assuring that our implementation plans are on time and on target. And they will help make sure that every county has the training and support they need to insure a successful General Election.
We are the first and only state in the nation to adopt a single, statewide solution for the upgrade of election equipment, to deploy it simultaneously in every county, and to pay for its acquisition solely with state, rather than county, funds.
Nine equipment manufacturers submitted bids to provide our statewide voting system. Many of the best firms in the industry offered their services to us.
Simply put, Diebold’s proposal offered the best value for the State of Georgia and is in the best interest of the counties that will operate this system for years to come.
From the outset, we made clear that we would select the vendor that provided the best value solution that would meet our need for accuracy, ease of use, accessibility and, of great importance, training and technical support after the sale.
Price was important, but price was not the only consideration.
After all, election equipment is not a commodity item, like pencils or copy paper.
Each system is different, with its own unique strengths and benefits.
And each manufacturer is different – their track record, their financial strength, their capability and financial resources.
After many weeks of careful study and intense analysis, our evaluation committee unanimously chose Diebold as offering the best value solution for the state of Georgia.
I want to say a word of special thanks to the members of our evaluation committee who worked so hard on this project, and who exercised such care in assuring that the process was scrupulously fair to each and every vendor.
We had elections and financial experts from our own agency, but we also called on the assistance of staff from other state agencies, including the Office of Planning and Budget and the Georgia Technology Authority. And we also had the invaluable expert advice from two highly respected retired county election superintendents, Bud Fletcher of Bibb County and Mack Dennis of Fulton County. I am particularly grateful to Bud and Mack, who contributed their time to make sure we found the best solution for all of Georgia.
I want to also convey my thanks to our friends in the Attorney General’s office. The Law Department staff worked long hours in helping us negotiate and finalize this contract and I am grateful for their efforts.
And, a little later, you will be hearing from Larry Singer, Georgia’s Chief Information Officer and executive director of the Georgia Technology Authority.
Larry Singer, and Larry’s team of experts, played an invaluable role in managing the bid process, in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the proposals and in negotiating the final contract. Thank you, Larry, for your great expertise and for the tremendous partnership with GTA that helped us every step of the way.
Diebold is no stranger to Georgia, or to Georgia elections.
If you’ve ever used an ATM, if you’ve ever used drive-up banking, in fact, if you’ve ever done any kind of business with a bank or financial institution, you’ve probably used Diebold’s products or services. They are a global leader in providing self-service solutions and services, and securing transactions of value – including votes.
They also have a large operational footprint in Georgia – assets that will be of great benefit as we jump onto the fast track of equipment deployment to every county of Georgia.
With its acquisition last year of Global Election Systems, one of the most respected names in the business, Diebold has extended its reach into the important business of election systems technology. And today Diebold Election Systems is a global leader in supplying electronic voting systems.
Ten Georgia counties are already Diebold Election Systems customers – including come of our largest counties: Cobb, Gwinnett and Chatham.
And while it played no part in our committee’s evaluation process, it is probably useful for you to know about Maryland’s experience in election reform.
Maryland is the only state that has joined us in crafting a statewide, multi-jurisdictional approach to upgrading election equipment. They are currently in the process of deploying new electronic voting systems in four of their largest counties, representing about half the state’s registered voters.
After their own careful analysis of proposals for an electronic voting solution, last December Maryland announced their choice. And it was
We are excited to be your partner. And I am confident that our new relationship will greatly enhance the accuracy and convenience of Georgia elections. There’s a lot of work to do in the months ahead, and we look forward to achieving our ambitious goals together.
Now, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you the Chairman, President and CEO of Diebold, Incorporated, Mr. Wally O’Dell.