Hold registration-machine firm accountable

Secretary of State Dean Heller said Thursday that the statewide voter registration system will be ready for elections this year.

That sounds like good news, but it camouflages some serious problems with the state's effort to comply with federal requirements.

Lost behind the announcement is the fact that the contractor hired for $4.6 million to build the original state-of-the-art system is nowhere near done.

What will be in place instead is a Plan B. It requires counties to use their existing systems to electronically send their voter registration lists to a computer at Heller's office.

The plan will meet federal requirements, but it won't work very well in tracking duplicate voter registrations.

It's a duct-tape solution, but unfortunately, it could be in place for awhile until the contractor, Covansys, gets its act together.

Heller suspended work on the contract with Covansys Inc. of Michigan after determining there was no way it was going to work for the 2006 elections.

The company missed deadlines and failed in its demonstrations.

Heller's announcement on Thursday appeared to be an effort to deflect part of the blame for the bungled Covansys system onto county elections officials, whom, he said, agreed with the choice of hiring Covansys.

His message would have been much stronger had he announced he was going to take charge and hold the company's feet to the fire or, better yet, cut ties with them and start over.


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