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09-20-05 Mercer County officials criticize Diebold’s service

By Tim Cox

  Diebold Election Systems is not living up to promises the company made when it sold Mercer County more than $450,000 in new high-tech voting machines, county elections officials say.

  Elections board members on Monday authorized a letter from the elections office and the county prosecutor's office detailing complaints about the company.

  Elections Director Denise Fullenkamp said there were numerous complaints aired by elections officials at a recent regional meeting. The most common complaint among county elections directors is that Diebold is not providing each county with its own technical support representative as the contract with the Ohio Secretary of State's office stipulates.

  Even when someone from Diebold is available, they offer a standard answer, Fullenkamp told board members.

  " 'I'll get back to you,' "Fullenkamp said she is often told. Often, the return call never comes, she said. "That's what we get about 90 percent of the time."  In one case, when a Diebold representative was working locally, elections office officials caught him playing solitaire on a computer. County officials lodged a formal complaint about that situation and have been without a regular technician dedicated to the county since then.

  Board member Mark Uhlenhake expressed concern about Diebold's dependability because representatives from the company are supposed to train local poll workers on using the new equipment before the Nov. 8 election.

  Mercer County's 168 touch screen voting machines cost $453,000 and were paid for through federal money provided through the Help America Vote Act.

  The board's action Monday authorizes letters to be sent to Diebold supervisors and Secretary of State's office representatives. The letter is to officially express "dissatisfaction" with Diebold's service, citing "countless calls and requests that have been made without response."

  Fullenkamp this morning said she expects Diebold officials will quickly remedy the situation after receiving the county's written complaint.


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