Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Heller got a break

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democrat, was sued by the Bush Administration's Justice Department for not complying with the federal requirements on developing statewide voter registration lists, but when the same company had similar problems compiling lists in Nevada the Justice Department did NOT sue Republican Secretary of State Dean Heller, "who was running for Congress at the time." [McClatchy]

States were to have met the HAVA January 1, 2006 deadline for completion of statewide voter registration database. [ELOrg pdf]

Nevada's Covansys developed database was scrapped after delays and complaints from county officials. [ELOrg pdf p.26] Then Secretary of State Heller met with county election officials in early December 2005 and admitted that the statewide registration system "just isn't going as smoothly as we had hoped." [NLTB] Nevada clerks were more blunt: The new computer system was unreliable, inaccurate, and needed to be scrapped. [LVSun] The Las Vegas Review Journal reported on March 17, 2006 that Heller had suspended the Covansys contract. Clark County registrar Larry Lomax said Heller had botched the Covansys deal and should not have awarded the contract to an out of state company. [LVRJ]

Maine, which had a $4.5 million dollar contract with Covansys experienced similar problems and was sued for non-compliance. [DoJ] Maine SoS Dunlap terminated the state's contract with Covansys in February, 2006. [VTusa] The Department of Justice announced an agreement with Maine "to protect voting rights" on July 28, 2006, but apparently couldn't resist adding that its "investigation also found that Maine's rolls contained a significant number of ineligible voters." [DoJPR] No mention of how many ineligible voters it took to reach a level of "significance" was made in the press release.

The fact that Maine recognized its problems with its Covansys contract and terminated the company's involvement with its statewide voter registration database a month before the similar contract with the same company in Nevada was scrapped might seem to imply that Maine was making more progress toward its statewide registration database than Nevada. The Department of Justice, evidently, didn't share that perspective.

New Jersey also had a contract with Covansys for $14.8 million. [BW-fa] It, too, failed to meet the DoJ deadlines, and reached an agreement with the DoJ just one month prior to the 2006 elections. [EOrg]

McClatchy sums it up: " The former department officials note that researchers have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud and that no lawsuits have targeted states whose elections were managed solely by Republican officials. At the same time, the department has done little to enforce the core provisions of a 1993 law that requires public assistance agencies to help register the mostly Democratic-leaning, poor and minority voters they serve despite complaints from a national group, Project Vote."

Status report on statewide registration for the 2006 elections.
Cross posted at Desert Beacon

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