Board of Public Works approves service contract for current voting machines

At its February 24 meeting, the Board of Public Works approved a service contract to continue use of the current “on-screen” voting machines for the 2010 elections. As previously discussed here, the Governor’s budget for FY 2011 does not include funding for the anticipated purchase of new voting machines. MACo has consistently opposed the investment in new voting systems, while both State and county governments are still paying for the previously purchased system.  Prior to the approval for the service contract, the Board approved a 2010 Contingency Fund item of $175,000 so the contract could be implemented in the current fiscal year.

The new service contract was not without controversy, as the Board had discussions about the confusing nature of the contract. The final vote on the contract approval was 2-1, with Comptroller Peter Franchot voting against its approval. The eventual amount of spending on service items is not fully clear from the contract proposal, as the item approved includes some components relevant only to the purchase of new voting systems, which will not be activated for the coming year without their purchase. The anticipated value of the new contract is some $21 million over the three-year base contract, with renewal options for four years totaling approximately $22 million. Half these costs are expected to be billed to county governments according to their voting-age population.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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