Johnson County voting machine contract faces uncertain future after primary debacle

OLATHE, Kan. — Johnson County leaders are still dealing with the fallout from Tuesday's primary debacle. 

On Thursday, Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker provided a postmortem to county commissioners over what happened Tuesday. 

"We had a couple of bumps in four or five places as we opened up, but by and large, the day went very smoothly," Metsker told the commissioners. 

That was the case until it was time to upload the results from the 1,100 new voting machines.

"The wheel just turned and turned like it was thinking," Metsker recalled.  

Metsker said there were eight technicians on-site troubleshooting the software glitch. 

"We were perplexed and dismayed and very disappointed," Metsker said.

Two days later the company, Election Systems and Software, still hasn't been able to pinpoint what caused the glitch and now their contract is hanging in the balance. 

Officials said Thursday, Johnson County hasn't fully paid out the $10.5 million on the contract as they're expecting an additional 1,000 voting machines to be delivered early next month.  

"The contract is not complete until we are satisfied with the performance of the product," Eilert said.

The company, based in Omaha, Nebraska told 41 Action News it stands by the statement it released Wednesday that served as their mea culpa.

 

"Folks out there just want to throw darts," said Steven Klika, the Johnson County Commissioner representing the 3rd district.

Meanwhile, commissioners sympathized with Metsker.

"Some sources have called for your resignation and in some way tried to label you as a scapegoat for this and I think it's sad," said Michael Ashcraft, Johnson County Commissioner for the 5th district.

Metsker is confident the company will turn things around. 

"We need to give them space to make the corrections and I am assured that they will find that and that we will all be happy with this equipment for years and years to come," Metsker said.

Johnson County's primary results will be certified after all the provisional and mailed-in ballots are counted on Monday starting at 9 a.m.

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