Louisiana News

Louisiana secretary of state scraps effort to acquire new voting machines

(The Center Square) – Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin announced Wednesday he would scrap his effort to replace the state’s nearly 30-year-old fleet of voting machines.

Two firms have objected to the process, claiming it was tailored to favor current vendor Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion also has been a target of unfounded conspiracy theories spread by Ardoin’s fellow Republicans alleging the company was involved in rigging last year’s presidential election.

“I am withdrawing the RFP to spend the next few months seeking to undo the damage to voter confidence done by those who willfully spread misinformation and disinformation,” Ardoin said in a prepared statement.

Ardoin said the process was “never rushed or inconsistent with accepted budgetary or procurement laws.”

“A glaring omission from the calls for more discussion is any credible criticism of our current election process,” he said.

Ardoin said his office would “seek the prompt engagement of the Louisiana Legislature” to explain how current laws about required voting machine technology affect competition among bidders.

Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder expressed support for Ardoin’s decision.

“I believe this will bring an opportunity for full transparency on the purchasing process and election systems for all levels of government,” Cortez said.

“Louisiana elections are some of the most safe and secure elections in the United States and giving more oversight to the process will only strengthen that,” Schexnayder said.

This marks the second time the state’s attempt to replace its current voting machines has been stymied by controversy. Dominion had been the low bidder in 2018, but Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration ruled the Secretary of State’s office had failed to follow protocols meant to ensure the integrity of the process.

“As important as it is for the State to procure high-quality, efficient, and reliable voting machine technology,” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne wrote in a letter affirming the state procurement officer’s decision, “it is equally important that the public have high confidence that the voting machines their tax dollars pay for are procured fairly, transparently, and in accordance with law.”

The earlier process began under former Secretary of State Tom Schedler and ended when Ardoin was holding the job on an interim basis but had not yet been elected.

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