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County ties firm's pay to how fast it counts votes

Friday, March 02, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter

The heavily criticized company that provides voting machines to Cook County will be held to a higher standard in the April elections -- and its pay will depend on meeting it.
Sequoia Voting Systems will be paid based on how quickly machines transmit results to election headquarters and also by how quickly those votes can be tabulated.
The County Board, which approved the new rules Thursday, still owes Sequoia $4.5 million on a $24 million contract, but that money is going to be held back until after the April 17 election.
The amount Sequoia will get will be based on the percent of precincts that successfully transmit results by 9 p.m.
It will also be based on whether it takes less than two hours to process all cartridges containing voting results.
Benchmarks met Tuesday
A sliding scale will determine the payout amount, but if 90 percent of all precincts have transmitted by 9 p.m. and votes are summarized in under two hours, Sequoia will receive the full $4.5 million.
And though problems plagued last year's primary and election, Sequoia met each of those benchmarks in Tuesday's election, said Deputy Clerk Brandon Neese.
Sequoia spokesman Christopher Lackner said the company is glad "we'll be able to measure how we determine success on both sides."
The 9 p.m. benchmark is just two hours after polls close, which Neese said is quicker than most industry standards.
Chicago election spokesman Tom Leach said the city considered a similar requirement for Sequoia, but opted not to.

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