BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Dominion Voting Systems, the target of unfounded voter fraud claims by supporters of former President Donald Trump, intends to bid for Louisiana’s new voting machine contract as it continues to combat the conspiracy theories surrounding its equipment, the company’s leader said Friday.
“It’s our expectation and hope that it will be a free and fair process that will not be judged or weighed on misinformation,” Dominion CEO John Poulos said in an interview.
Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s solicitation went out Jan. 27 for contractors seeking to replace 10,000 voting machines that are decades old. Bids from companies interested in the contract are due at the end of March. Louisiana’s contract is estimated to be worth up to $100 million.
Colorado-based Dominion is hoping to hang onto the work of providing election technology to a state that has used its products for years.
“We have been a proud partner to Louisiana and specifically the elections officials in Louisiana for quite some time. We are very proud of our record there,” Poulos said.
But the company has been under fire from Trump supporters around the country who insist its machines were somehow to blame for Trump’s loss in key swing states – but not his victory in Louisiana.
Dominion technology has been accused of switching or deleting votes, using algorithms to unevenly weigh vote tallies and using foreign servers – though there is no evidence backing up those claims or the allegations of widespread voter fraud in the presidential election.
Dominion has sued Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell for spreading the unsubstantiated claims, and Poulos promised “there will be more” lawsuits. Amid the legal threats, several conservative media outlets have issued clarifications and read statements debunking some of the claims made in its election coverage.
Still, some of Louisiana’s GOP lawmakers have repeated Trump’s voter fraud allegations, and a Republican Party official in Louisiana, Lenar Whitney, slammed Dominion at the party governing body’s recent meeting and raised concerns about the company possibly being considered for a new contract.
The company has launched a national outreach effort trying to debunk the conspiracy theories. Poulos stressed that voting equipment and software companies don’t run elections, but simply provide the technology for local officials to do so.
Vendors who bid for Louisiana’s contract will have to disclose any foreign ownership, countries in which they operate and names of board members, in what appears to be a strike at some of the misinformation spread about Dominion.
Lawmakers plan a Feb. 19 hearing to get more details from Ardoin about the contractor search. Sen. Sharon Hewitt, the Slidell Republican who chairs a committee that oversees voting issues, said lawmakers want to make sure “the public will have confidence at the end of the process” about the integrity of the voting system chosen.
Dominion has provided voting system technology in Louisiana since 2011, after it bought a company that held the state’s voting machine contract since 1991.
Even before the controversies surrounding the presidential election, Ardoin was going to face intensified scrutiny about his efforts to buy or lease thousands of new voting machines, because allegations of improper bid handling derailed a previous effort to replace the equipment in 2018.
That controversy involved Dominion.
The secretary of state’s office started looking for a contractor in March 2018 under Ardoin’s predecessor, Tom Schedler. Dominion was chosen out of three companies that bid for the work. But Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration voided the contract award to the company months later amid accusations from a competing bidder that the secretary of state’s office attempted to manipulate the outcome.
In response to a protest filed by Election Systems and Software, Louisiana’s chief procurement officer said the secretary of state’s office didn’t follow legal requirements in choosing the winning vendor. Ardoin and Dominion disagreed.
Poulos said the vendor was disappointed in the outcome, but the company didn’t dispute the matter in court.
Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte.
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