In a nutshell: Johnson County's voting machines were ruined in a flood. Johnson County is seeking additional money, forked over by the taxpayers of course, to lease new voting machines and provide services for November.
THREE FIRMS HAVE BID FOR THE CONTRACT
The contract appears to be for equipment by
Election Systems & Software ("ES&S").
with follow up records request here:
One of the firms submitting a proposal is ES&S. Note that ES&S generally subcontracts voting machine services out to secondary companies.
Another firm that bid for the Johnson County contract is called "ATM Diagnostics LLC". Black Box Voting has been researching this firm, and we find it to be an unacceptably secretive company with a web site that is a credibility buster:
Yes, that's right. As of the time this is being posted, it's blank. The only information about this firm is on this page:
As you can see, this contains no names, not even a phone number. The only other thing this company seems to do is sell a device to increase service billings for automotive repair shops. You can see that information by Googling "atmdiagnostics".
ATM Diagnostics has paid to get a privacy protection on its Web domain name, stripping out the names of the owners and their contact information, a somewhat unusual procedure. It is a Limited Liability Corporation, which means information on its partners is not necessarily available even in corporate filings. It's corporate filing contains only the name of a lawyer in Peoria Illinois, most likely an attorney who stands in as registered agent for many corporations. Its address leads to a commercial address for several businesses, perhaps a public mailbox facility or an el-cheapo office where one secretary handles multiple businesses.
Black Box Voting submitted a public records request to Johnson County for the bid proposal from ATM Diagnostics, which presumably will at least identify who is involved with this company.
The third firm submitting a Johnson County proposal is called "Dalton Consulting." This firm appears to consist of a single individual (well, he may be married...), working out of his home, named James B. Dalton. According to his Web site:
Dalton worked for ES&S for eight years. He provides references from county officials, the most impressive of which is the deployment in Miami-Dade County, which has an active and highly informed group of local activists called MDERC (Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition). Probably more could be learned from them as to whether there were any problems in that massive project.
And advantage to working with Dalton would be that Johnson County voters would at least know who they are dealing with. However, depending on how many accounts James Dalton picks up for the 2008 election, Johnson County could be in a world of hurt if he gets the flu or is overextended.
ES&S is a powerful but privately owned and very tight-lipped company with a checkered history including dozens of election meltdowns. As mentioned before, ES&S contracts out the programming of the voting machines and even the actual election tallying process to other firms. ES&S generally charges about $1600 per day for Election Day services and recommends 2-3 days, in addition to charging for its ballot layout. See the EVEREST report linked below for how to rig an election with ES&S, to gain an understanding of just how much power these unnamed technicians have.