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Pig in a poke: Buying Voting Equipment in Broward County Florida

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Message Ellen Brodsky

Pig in a poke

Pig-in-a-poke is an idiom that refers to a confidence trick originating in the Late Middle Ages, when meat was scarce, but apparently rats and cats were not.
The scheme entailed the sale of a "suckling pig", in a "poke" (bag). The wriggling bag actually contained a cat, not particularly prized as a source of meat, which was then sold unopened to the victim.
A common colloquial expression in the English language, to "buy a pig in a poke" is to make a risky purchase without inspecting an item beforehand. The phrase can also be applied to accepting an idea or plan without a full understanding of its basis. Similar expressions exist in other languages, most of them meaning to buy a cat in a bag, with some exceptions.
This may also be the origin of the expressions: "Let the cat out of the bag" (although that expression may also refer to the Cat o' nine tails) meaning 'to reveal that which is secret', and "left holding the bag" meaning 'to find oneself with nothing for their efforts', as the cat is quite likely to flee when the bag is opened.

Broward County Contract for ES&S DS200 Optical Scanners.

Here is an excerpt from the Dan Rather Reports:

"It all sounds familiar, too familiar. Taxpayers being asked to throw out millions of dollars worth of voting equipment, start over again, and pick up the tab. With no guarantee the new equipment will provide a solution to the problems. Technology can often offer a solution to a complicated process, in this case, accurately recording votes. But technology poorly conceived, designed, integrated and tested is a recipe for failure. In this instance, subsidizing the same outfits that couldn't get it right the first time, giving them more chances could lead to the further waste of millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars. And just as important, the further loss of confidence in our nation's ability to use technology to provide solutions for mission-critical applications, none more important to our nation than accurately recording each of our votes.

1. Contract has no written guarantee that the voting system will work for the purpose of accurately counting our votes. Instead ES&S warrants replacement of parts but not labor for 1 year.

2. Supervisor of Elections must purchase in addition an Extended Warranty to cover more parts not labor, a Maintenance and Servicing Contract, and Election Support.

3- ES&S Refuses to grant any Florida Customer a "Performance Bond" which would in effect stand behind their product for any defects in performance. They refuse to be held responsible if their product does not work.

4- ES&S will perform the Acceptance and Delivery Testing instead of our County Supervisor of Elections or an Independent testing team. When has any major company or customer ever accepted such terms??? Most companies demand to do their own testing not the vendor that sold them the product!!!!

5- At the time of Acceptance and Delivery Testing ES&S will install the initial firmware to make the system turn on and off with a tiny testing of Ballots.
Broward County or any FL County will not have any ability to examine the source code being installed because it is proprietary.

6- None of the testing being done will demonstrate those features that Supervisors of Elections in large counties such as Broward and Miami Dade were expecting such as multi-lingual feedback, or even that it seemlessly connects to the Unity Software System itself to conduct an election from ballot coding to election reporting. Why you may ask???

7- Broward will now have a "blended" system, because our county refused to purchase the Certified AutoMark for the disabled enabling all voters to vote equally on paper ballots as a result of the sole source no bid contract to ES&S. The county is waiting to purchase ES&S's Ballot Marking Device sometime before 2012.

8- The blended system will require additional certified firmware to be able to compile the election results from the optical scanners with the iVotronics for a single precinct report. This firmware may not be certified yet.

9- Broward County in the contract agrees to accept whatever proprietary software and firmware updates that ES&S decides to throw at us. And there will be many before the 2008 elections and beyond.... until ES&S decides to sell us new voting machines.

10- We have learned this week the very reason for the sole source no bid contract in Miami Dade for the ES&S DS200s was the Multi-Lingual Feedback software. However, ES&S has told Lester Sola Miami Dade Supervisor of Elections that this firmware won't be available until Spring 2008! Sola was promised this software when the machines were delivered in Oct. 07!

11- Broward County without a Citizen Advisory Board on Elections and Oversight Committee didn't take the due care and diligence to even think about these issues. Yet, we also must have multi-lingual feedback according to the Voting Rights Act of 1965! Broward's sole source criteria was based on price and the expediency of the Supervisor of Elections staff as they were familiar with the Unity Software System. No doubt, some such as Stacy Ritter, Commissioner District 3 and wife of Russ Klenet the lobbyist who sold Broward the $20 million dollars worth of defective iVotronics, certainly should have recused herself from voting on the no bid contract in a sane world. Not one word in Broward's contract negotiations referred to votes being counted accurately or protections for the voters. On the contrary, Pete Corwin, County Administrator and ES&S said the machines would be put to the fire in our Primary and General Elections of 2008. Meaning our Presidential election will be a beta test.

12- Broward County's Purchasing Director and Negotiating Team consisting of SOE, County Adminstration and ES&S all laughed when the Purchasing Director exclaimed in the negotiations $5.4 million, but I don't even know what we are buying"!!!!

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Ellen H. Brodsky is the Founder of the Broward Election Reform Coalition, a member of the Palm Beach Coalition for Election Reform and the Florida Voters Coalition. Ellen is a longtime Voting Integrity leader in South Florida, best known for (more...)
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