8/15/2005

Salt Lake Tribune: Lobbyist challenged on voting machines

Lobbyist challenged on voting machines
Legal. But ethical? S.L. County's lobbying firm also works for the devices' manufacturer

County Mayor Peter Corroon and Clerk Sherrie Swensen cite sticker shock and the furious pace of the plan as a problem.
"It's just so new and it hasn't been tested," Swensen says. "I'm a little frustrated that we're being forced to make it before that technology has been perfected."
County taxpayers' tab: at least $5 million more than what the federal government or state will cover, according to Corroon.
Conversely, Tetris associates Dan Hartman, Blaze Wharton and Paul Rogers will profit "hand over fist," says Deputy District Attorney Gavin Anderson.
Wharton deferred comment to Tetris principal Hartman, who did not return multiple phone calls. Rogers also could not be reached.
To comply with the federal Help America Vote Act, the ballot-system overhaul was mandated last year. In May, Diebold was awarded the statewide contract - Salt Lake County will get 2,817 new machines - beating out one other bidder. Then, last month, the Tetris team escorted its client to the County Government Center for a presentation.
But the Mayor's Office never dispatched its political muscle - Tetris - for the job.
"We never asked Tetris to go out and lobby the state to get the Diebold systems," Corroon says. "They came in with Diebold and let Diebold do the talking. They tried to dispel rumors . . . about their machines.





Salt Lake Tribune - Utah

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