Philly election officials vote to keep 29M dollar contract for new voting machines

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Board of Elections voted Thursday to keep a $29 million dollar contract with Election Systems & Software (ES&S) for new voting machines. The contract was up for review, after the city controller discovered that the company failed to disclose lobbying activity.

A dozen activists spoke before the board’s vote to urge that the contract be voided, they protested by boo’ing and shouting when it wasn’t. Their concerns revolved around election security—they prefer hand-marked paper ballots over machines.

The issue the board had to consider was whether ES&S’ failure to disclose that it had hired two local lobbying firms was sufficient enough reason to dissolve the contract. 

Related: Philly election officials reconsider $29M contract for new voting machines after city reveals lobbying

Judge Giovanni Campbell and Judge Vincent Furlong decided that it was not. Commissioner Anthony Clark abstained. 

Campbell made a statement before his vote. He cited a letter from the procurement commissioner that said ES&S’ performance had been satisfactory, and that the city had already spent millions rolling-out the machines and training workers.

City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart had raised the issue of non-disclosure and asked the board not to vote until her investigation of the contract is complete. She says she was disappointed in the vote but added, “it’s not over.”

“We are looking into things I can’t talk about at this moment but the investigation will be done in a matter of weeks.”

Rhynhart said the board may have to meet on the issue again “at that time,” she said.

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