Montrose County will not be paying more than $23,000 in costs to the print vendor whose errors triggered a hand-count and delayed by a week primary election results, including those in a tight sheriff’s race.
Print vendor Integrated Voting Systems, also known as Integrated Voting Solutions, made “numerous mistakes” in printing the ballots, as well as in stuffing envelopes and mailing them, which caused “significant and irreparable damage” to the primary election here, according to a settlement agreement the Montrose County Clerk and Recorder’s Office and IVS representatives inked on Tuesday.
Under the agreement, the county is only paying about $3,400 in postage costs, which settles an entire bill that would have exceeded $26,000.
“It’s good to get that behind us,” Clerk Tressa Guynes said Wednesday.
IVS printed the incorrect barcodes on ballots for the June primary, which caused every ballot submitted to register as an “over-vote,” or as having more than one box marked in a given contest. The system was not recognizing anything as a vote, Guynes said at the time.
Following the recommendation of the Colorado Secretary of State, Guynes initiated a laborious hand-count.
This process cost $12,000, including overtime for the clerk’s staff. The true cost was really higher, considering such factors as the SOS’ staff time and travel expenses, which were not charged to the county, the clerk said.
IVS initially offered to cut its invoice totals for services by 50 percent, Guynes said, but she did not agree that was fair.
“They admitted they printed the wrong barcode and agreed I shouldn’t have to pay for them to print the ballot,” she said.
IVS offered the discount, but Guynes maintained the error is what forced the hand-count and contended IVS should have to pay for it. “We wouldn’t have done a hand-count if it wasn’t for them printing the wrong barcode,” Guynes said.
The clerk and IVS “have some differences of opinion as to the ultimate causes of the various defects and mistakes, but desire to reach a resolution of this matter without litigation,” the Tuesday agreement states.
Via the agreement, each party releases the other from future claims related to IVS’ performance in the primary election. IVS under the agreement also indemnified the clerk and the county, as well as certified that it did not turn claims against the county over to collections, or other persons or entities.
The original invoices were for $8,490.21; $7,440.26 and $10,627.97, totaling more than $26,600.
When the $3,392.51 the county agreed to pay is included — for a portion of IVS costs that include postage — the amount for which it is not liable is about $23,211.
The parties agree the invoices are marked as “paid” to signify no further money is owed, and not because the county actually paid them or has agreed to do so.
Montrose County Commissioner Keith Caddy concurred with Guynes, also saying he was glad to have the matter behind the county.
“The coming general election should hopefully be trouble-free,” Caddy said.
Separate of the print vendor issue, commissioners in June approved an expenditure to replace old and failing electronic voting equipment that is technologically obsolete.
Most of the state now uses equipment made by Dominion Voting Systems, Inc. Guynes was approved for an amount not to exceed $157,000 to acquire such equipment and complete the necessary contracts, subject to attorney review.
“We’re going to be using the same system (most of) the rest of Colorado is using,” Caddy said.
The clerk’s election staff will be getting trained on the new equipment in the coming weeks. During logic and accuracy testing closer to the general election, there will be a “soft opening” of sorts, allowing the public a chance to help test out the new system, per Guynes.
The upgrade cost about $150,000, she said.
“That is expensive, but the last time they bought election equipment, it was $270,000. That shows you the price of technology is decreasing,” Guynes said.
“We’re the 60th (Colorado) county to go Dominion.”
Katharhynn Heidelberg is an award-winning journalist and the senior writer for the Montrose Daily Press. Follow her on Twitter @kathMDP.