abbate 2Richard AbbateThe Republican candidate for Secretary of the State alleged Monday that the Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz awarded what amounted to a no bid contract for a voting machine that is supposed to make it easier for disabled voters to vote in the November elections. Richard Abbate, the former president of the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut, said under pressure by the Department of Justice to meet the requirements of the Help America Vote Act,  Bysiewicz issued a request for bids which contained a specification that only could be met by one company. Bysiewicz said later Monday “that’s not the case.”

She said the bid process, which also involved the Governor’s Office, Department of Administrative Services, and Department of Information Services, has been open and transparent. She said she’s shocked Abbate would accuse the governor of putting out a “no bid contract.” She said the state is still in negotiations, but has not hired the sole bidder, IVS, LLC, despite Abbate’s assumption. Click here to see a survey of what people liked and didn’t like about the machine. InspireCourtesy of Verified Voting FoundationAbbate said the machine may be helpful for blind voters, but those with multiple disabilities have reported trouble using it. In addition it creates a paper version of the ballot that’s easy to distinguish from ballots of other voters who will be using the old lever machines, he said. He said this is a bipartisan issue and registrars from both parties are skeptical of the machines, which everyone has yet to see three-months before the election. He said the responsibility of the Secretary of State is to certify the machines and it’s up to the municipalities to purchase them. Registrars of voters, “are universally unhappy about what’s going on,” he said. He said the bid process was so flawed that one company sent a communication decrying the limits placed in the bid document, “which precluded their company from submitting a bid.” Bysiewicz said that actually she’s done two requests for proposals. She said after the first RFP failed to turn up vendors who could meet state and federal requirements there was a second RFP that received one response. She said “we’re finding a lot of companies aren’t interested in Connecticut because it’s such a small state.” In January Bysiewicz announced that no vendor offered any replacement to the current lever machines that meets state and federal requirements. The Help America Vote Act requires the state to get rid of the old lever machines and purchase new voting technology that protects against fraud and is accessible to disabled voters.At the time, her decision was praised by local voting officials, who claimed that the state’s efforts to procure new voting technology was biased toward computerized voting machines.In January, according to the Hartford Courant Abbate said, “I am very happy.” “I think the secretary of the state has made exactly the right decision.”