Dominion Confident it can Implement Electronic Vote Count in Time for 2016 Primaries, General Elections
“Dominion is more than just a trusted provider of elections” reads the slogan of Dominion, the company hired by the State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish acronym) in August 2015, at a cost of $38.8 million, to work on the electronic tally of votes in Puerto Rico’s primaries and general elections in 2016.
With just a few months to go before the primary elections in June, founding president & CEO of Dominion Voting Systems, John Poulos, is confident that there is enough time to train CEE personnel who will work in the vote count with the new equipment.
“There is time and we are confident that we will make it,” said Poulos when asked if he wasn’t concerned about the little time left before the primaries and general elections to train CEE personnel.
While an exact number remains unclear, around 10,000 people will have to be trained in the new computer system, as there will be at least 1,700 voting colleges island-wide, with each political party assigning at least one official at each voting college, along with CEE staff.
Regarding the fiscal situation in Puerto Rico and the apparent difficulties in identifying the funds to cover the cost of the electoral cycle—both the primaries and general elections—Poulos said he is also not concerned because his company has worked in states with serious fiscal problems, including bankruptcy.
As early as last December, the CEE faced problems in the process of securing electoral equipment for candidates who will be taking part in the primaries after the Office of Management & Budget couldn’t fulfill its promise to the CEE of providing $10 million for the primary process. By December 1, 2015, when the filing of candidacies began, the CEE had only received $1.2 million of the $10 million it had been promised.
The CEE made the first payment of $8 million—for the total $38.8 million contract—this past December.
There is still another $6 million payment pending, followed by other annual payments for a period of 10 years, which will also cover the 2016, 2020 and 2024 elections.
Dominion’s contract includes 6,075 tally machines, personnel training and equipment storage and software maintenance. To date, about 1,000 of the machines have arrived in Puerto Rico and the remaining 5,000 or so should be delivered well before the June primaries.
According to Dominion’s website, Dominion Voting Systems sets itself apart from the competition with a commitment to customer-service convenience and a superior use of technology. Dominion’s history spans more than 100 years, all the way back to 1895 and the invention of the first ever Direct Recording lever machines in New York. Over the course of the last century, as expertise and experience in the development and deployment of voting systems has grown, Dominion says it has leveraged this history of innovation through its vast pool of elections specialists.
Dominion Voting Systems sets itself apart from the competition with a commitment to customer-service convenience and a superior use of technology.
Partnering with and learning from top-level suppliers and employees in the election automation industry, Dominion is taking part in the word’s most challenging and innovative democracy projects, according the company.
For her part, CEE President Liza García Vélez has stressed that the implementation of an electronic vote count system will guarantee “the certainty and transparency of the results of electoral processes.”
The electoral commissioner of the New Progressive Party Jorge Dávila has said that under the new electronic system, the electoral process will be transparent because voting will still be carried out on ballots. He added that one of the significant advantages of the electronic count vote is that “once [voting] colleges are closed, the machine won’t accept any other ballot. After the colleges are closed, the counting process and the adjudication will be done by the machine.”
The former electoral commissioner of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), who is now the party’s secretary general, Juan Dalmau, hailed the integration of technology in the electoral process and maintained “the machines off er that guarantee of transparency. I speak from experience because in the past election, our Maria de Lourdes [Santiago, current PIP senator), was able to rescue 11,000 votes that weren’t tallied in the colleges, thanks to a recount.
“Those votes aren’t votes from the Senator-at-large for the PIP, they are votes of voters who exercised a right and thus, I think we are taking an important step in acknowledging the value that once a voter exits a voting college, [he or she] knows that the vote will be adjudicated just as it was cast,” Dalmau added.
Meanwhile, Popular Democratic Party Electoral Commissioner Guillermo San Antonio Acha said that with this step, “justice is being done to the thousands of electoral functionaries who today see with great hope the modernization of democratic systems.”
Por Ismael Torres