Md. included in antitrust settlement with voting system provider

March 09, 2010|By Brent Jones | Baltimore Sun reporter

The nation's largest provider of voting equipment will forgo its acquisition of a rival company as part of an antitrust settlement reached with nine states, including Maryland, according to the Department of Justice.

Election Systems & Software will divest all assets from its September 2009 purchase of Premier Election Solutions, which was the second-largest voting system company in the country. The acquisition was finalized six days before bids were due to install a new optical scan voting system in Maryland, limiting the state to contracting with ES&S or continuing under the current system, according to the attorney general's office. The state chose to continue with the current system, a spokeswoman for the office said.

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said in a statement that the settlement will restore balance in the marketplace, and that the state will receive the benefits of competition when it seeks vendors to install voting machines after this year. ES&S and Premier had accounted for more than 70 percent of voting equipment systems in the nation.

Maryland's history with Premier stretches back for years and includes an $8.5 million lawsuit filed in December 2008 seeking money for costs the state incurred to correct security gaps in the voting system that were uncovered by independent investigations. The state had paid $90 million under a contract with Premier, formerly known as Diebold, since 2001.

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