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Xenia company hired to replace old system



Published: Thu, August 25, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



County databases and the state's must be linked by January 2006, a law says.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The Mahoning County Board of Elections is hiring a Xenia, Ohio, company to provide a new voter registration system, replacing one that never worked.

The board waited patiently for several months for Diverse Integrated Systems Inc. to get the registration system to function, but the Modesto, Calif., company couldn't get the job done, said Mark Munroe, the board's chairman.

The board paid $20,000 to DIS, half of what the company was to receive for the job, Munroe said. The company was to link the board's current computer voter registration database to the Ohio Secretary of State's office system, but couldn't get the two to link, Munroe said.

Also during this time, the state took away DIS's certification to handle this job for boards of election in Ohio because of problems in Mahoning and other counties.

A link between county election databases and the one run by the state is a requirement of the federal Help America Vote Act. The link must be in place by January 2006, Munroe said.

The goal of the system is to reduce the opportunity for people to commit voter fraud, he said.

On Wednesday, the board hired Triad GSI of Xenia for this task. Triad, the lone bidder for the work, will receive $99,100 to pay for new computer hardware, software and installation work.

Also, beginning a year from now the county will pay Triad about $20,000 annually for four years for a maintenance contract.

Trying to recoup money

The election board also is discussing with the county prosecutor's office ways to recover the $20,000 paid to DIS, Munroe said.

Trumbull County, which paid $16,000 to DIS, filed a lawsuit recently against the company to recoup its money.

The election board also hired companies to print absentee ballots and to provide election kits during the Sept. 27 primary run-off in Campbell and the Nov. 8 general election.

The board awarded the absentee ballot contract to Dayton Legal Blank for $10,503. The company beat Olfield Graphics, an Austintown company formerly known as Youngstown Lithographic, which bid $12,155 for the contract.

Until this year, Olfield/Youngstown Lithographic handled the election board's absentee ballot contract for at least two decades. But Dayton received the board's contract for the May primary and now for the November general election.

The board also awarded a contract to Barrett Brothers of Springfield for election supply kits at $23.30 each. The kits include sample ballots, posters on how to vote, pens, envelopes, scissors and other items. Barrett, which beat out Dayton Legal Blank, has supplied the kits to the election board for several years.

skolnick@vindy.com




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