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County has no problems with moves in voting machine industry

A September sale between two of the top voting machine companies in the U.S. has spurred national concern regarding monopolization in the voting machine industry that could leave the integrity of future elections at stake.

Diebold, Inc. sold its U.S. voting machine business, Premier Election Solutions, to Election Systems & Software (ES&S), the country’s largest voting system company.

Prior to the sale, Premier served 27 percent of the market, while ES&S served 47.7 percent, meaning the market share following the merger is 74.7 percent for ES&S, according to data provided by Black Box Voting, a voters’ rights group.

Despite Archuleta County’s use of Premier (now ES&S), county clerk June Madrid has not followed suit in the concern over the monopolization.

The only thing that could affect the county at this point would be raised prices, “but it’s very possible they could do that, anyway” Madrid said.

Archuleta County uses Premier systems, as well as Hart InterCivic systems. Hart serves 10.4 percent of the country, including most of Colorado, according to BBV.

“I’m very confident in the vendors we have and I like the machines,” Madrid said, noting features such as the user-friendly nature and ability to recount votes. “Right now, I don’t have any concerns about it.”

Madrid also explained that the voting system choice is limited in Colorado, with only Hart, ES&S and Sequoia serving the state, and if prices escalate, the county would look into switching companies.

National concern has prompted the U.S. Department of Justice and 14 states to open formal antitrust investigations into the matter, noted BBV in December.

BBV and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) sent requests to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking for a probe into the sale.

Soon after, Schumer announced that the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, of which he is the chairman, would launch a formal review of potential problems in the merger. The committee has jurisdiction when it comes to issues relating to federal elections and election administration.

Hart has also filed a lawsuit against Diebold and ES&S in September, which states the merger “poses a significant and imminent threat of irreparable antitrust injury to plaintiffs.”

randi@pagosasun.com