At the work session following their regular Wednesday morning meeting, Monroe County commissioners confirmed a choice of vendor for some new election equipment: Hart Intercivic, out of Austin, Texas.
The other competing vendor was Election Systems & Software (ES&S), out of Omaha, Nebraska.
Based on the recommendation of a seven-person committee, the three commissioners voted to direct their attorney, Jeff Cockerill, to initiate discussions on writing a contract to purchase the equipment from Hart.
The base cost proposal from Hart was $837,411, which is less than the estimated figure of $1 million the county has been using for the project.
The county’s attorney, Jeff Cockerill, told The Beacon he did not think the contract would be a lot more than the base figure. One item Cockerill mentioned that was not a part of the base proposal is a high-speed optical scanner, which might cost around $50,000.
Cockerill told the commissioners that the recommendation of the seven-person committee hinged a lot on security and reducing chance for human error. He also cited the accessibility of the equipment to those with disabilities. Hart is the county’s current election equipment vendor.
The base proposal from Hart was about $26,500 more than the proposal from ES&S. The scoring system laid out in the RFP assigned cost 30 out of the 100 points. The lowest bid got the maximum point value, with others receiving a percentage of the maximum. A vendor’s percentage of the cost points was calculated by taking the lowest bid and dividing by the vendor’s bid.
That made for a one-point difference between the two vendors based on cost: 30 points for ES&S and 29 for Hart. [(810,885/837,441)*30 = 29.05]
The remaining 70 points in the RFP scoring rubric were: satisfaction of basic voting system requirements (30 points); implementation plan, which includes items like support while voting is going on, the lines of communication, and software updates (30 points); and experience (10 points).
The seven-person committee consisted of the county’s three-member election board, and one representative apiece from the county commissioners, the county council, the county legal department, and the League of Women Voters.
The county is planning to pay for the equipment out of cash reserves. This year’s general obligation bond had originally been proposed for $5.17 million, and included $1 million for election equipment. The election equipment wound up being crossed off the list for the bonds, which were eventually issued for $3.3 million
The two other vendors who demonstrated their equipment at an RFP open house held on Oct. 14 in the Nat U. Hill Room of the county courthouse—Unisyn Voting Systems out of Vista, California and MicroVote General Corporation from Indianapolis—did not submit proposals.
The county’s RFP pegs Jan. 2, 2020 as the date when it hopes to have a work plan provided by the vendor, now decided as Hart. The work plan is supposed to include a training schedule, onsite testing and vendor programing. Monroe County wants the voting system to be delivered by Feb. 5, 2020.
The RFP states that the new equipment will be used in the 2020 Primary Election on May 5, 2020.