Company loses election pact

September 26, 1990|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Evening Sun Staff

Acting on a request from the city election board, the city Board of Estimates today canceled the contract with a Pennsylvania company that provided the printed material used in voting machines on Primary Election Day.

The election board has been under intense criticism for its handling of the vote count in the Sept. 11 primary election.

The Board of Estimates last July awarded a $57,456 contract to United States Election Corp. of West Chester, Pa. The contract covered both the primary and general elections.

The Board of Estimates today awarded the remainder of the contract, worth nearly $26,000 and covering the November general election, to the second lowest bidder, the Paul Co. of Baltimore, which had bid $59,725.

Under its contract, United States Election was to print the large sheet packs that go in the back of each voting machine and record each vote. The firm also would print the ballot and the tally sheets on which election judges write down the results from each precinct.

The request to cancel the contract, submitted by the election board and the Bureau of Purchases, cites the firm's "poor quality of work, late deliveries and generally poor work performance in its handling of the first part of the contract," the primary election.

Donald Evons, president of United States Election, met with Barbara E. Jackson, executive secretary of the election board, and purchasing bureau officials before the Board of Estimates meeting and agreed to the cancellation. Evons acknowledged that his company had problems meeting the contract terms.

On primary night, Jackson suspended the unofficial counting of votes and stopped posting results.

The suspension brought criticism from candidates, the media and the public.

Gene M. Raynor, state administrator of elections, today was to meet with Jackson and the three-member election board to review what went wrong on primary night.

City Council President Mary Pat Clarke, chairwoman of the Board of Estimates, said yesterday that United States Election held the contract for the 1988 primary and general elections "and performed so well that we recommended them to other subdivisions."

Clarke said it appears "United States Election got more business than it could handle."

The problems began when United States Election did not deliver the print pack sheets on time so they could be placed in voting machines before the machines were moved from the warehouse hTC to polling places, said Clarke. She added that many errors also were found in the machine ballots that list the candidates and offices.

Clarke said her patience was exhausted after she learned that election judges had to hand print tally sheets because they weren't delivered in time for the election.

"I called the Bureau of Purchases and asked them to cancel the contract," said Clarke. "After meeting with Barbara Jackson, the bureau concluded there was reason to move in that direction."

On Monday, Clarke introduced a resolution calling for the Police Department to continue making an unofficial count of votes cast in elections and posting the results. The measure also calls for the council to give the election board any support it can to "help the next election run as smoothly as possible," Clarke said.

A council hearing on the resolution is scheduled for Oct. 17.

Jackson said she suspended the count on election night to get as accurate a count as possible.

But her decision meant that results from half of the city's nine legislative districts and some citywide offices were not known until a day or two later.

This was the first city election in which the results were to be tabulated by computer. Jackson said that there weren't enough clerks on hand to put the numbers into the computer and meet demands by candidates and the media for tallies.

She also said that some election judges had trouble reading the print packs and other judges wrote incorrect information on the tally sheets.

Police and city and state election officials have said they don't want to go back to the old system of using officers to count votes on election night.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.