California Secretary of State Debra Bowen on Tuesday threatened to fine Election Systems & Software nearly $15 million and ban the company from doing business in California for three years for possibly selling as many as 1,000 uncertified machines to five California counties. Bowen accused ES&S of illegally selling 972 uncertified AutoMARK version 1.1 machines.
The AutoMARK version 1.0 is a certified machine and is used by disabled voters in 14 California counties, including Los Angeles. If Bowen finds ES&S made unauthorized changes to the AutoMARK machine in version 1.1, she could ask a court or an administrative judge law to impose a $10,000 fine per violation, a total of $9.72 million, as well as a refund of nearly $5 million for the $5,000 machines.
Bowen first became aware of the possible new version when ES&S applied for certification of a system that was already in place in five counties. If ES&S is banned from doing business in the state, counties that use ES&S machines would have to switch to another vendor, though Bowen plans to use the funds from the fines to help counties replace ES&S machines. An ES&S spokesman did not directly address Bowen’s accusations, but said the company will work with her and that ES&S has a long history of complying with extensive and thorough examinations of its voting technology.