Voting equipment maker to divest former Diebold

Maryland, 8 other states sued Election Systems & Software

March 10, 2010|By Brent Jones | brent.jones@baltsun.com

The nation's largest provider of voting equipment will unwind its acquisition last year of its principal rival as part of an antitrust settlement with Maryland and eight other states, the Department of Justice announced.

Election Systems & Software completed its purchase of Premier Election Solutions Inc., formerly Diebold Inc., six days before bids were due for the installation of a new optical scan voting system in Maryland. The acquisition limited the state to contracting with the Omaha, Neb., giant or continuing with its current system, according to the office of Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler. The state chose to continue with the current system.

Election Systems & Software agreed to divest itself of all the assets it acquired in the September 2009 purchase of Premier, which was then the second-largest provider of voting equipment in the country.

Gansler said in a statement that the settlement will restore balance in the marketplace, and that Maryland will enjoy 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.

The state'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 the former Diebold since 2001.

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