Stark County No Longer Buying $6.45 Million in Equipment From Dominion Voting Systems After Being Hounded by Trump Supporters


Scene archival photo of voting location - ERIC SANDY/SCENE
  • Eric Sandy/Scene
  • Scene archival photo of voting location

If Dominion Voting Systems, the company besieged by unfounded claims of vote rigging and election fraud from former President Donald Trump and his followers, is looking for an example of actual harm as it litigates its various defamation lawsuits against those who spread the Big Lie after the November presidential election, it need look no further than Stark County.

That Ohio county's three commissioners, all Republicans, this week voted to reject a recommendation from the Stark County Board of Elections to purchase $6.45 million in new equipment — touch screen voting machines, optical ballot scanners, ballot printers, a server, among other items — from Dominion to replace its old and aging systems.

After a years-long search, the Board of Elections announced the impending deal in December, subject to final approval.

Then, the commissioners told reporters, they were inundated with calls and messages from Trump supporters angry that Stark County was getting into bed with the company that stole the election.

"They believe the election was stolen from Trump and we should stand by Trump and the Dominion machines have been known to be hacked," Commissioner Richard Regula told the Canton Repository in January. "It’s been the most calls I’ve ever received as a county commissioner. ... I had 17 voicemails in one day."

Focusing, as elected officials tend to do, on performative displays of leadership in deference to possible voters instead of on the truth, the commissioners hastily intervened in what should have been a rubber-stamp approval of the voting system deal evaluated and secured by those who are actually experts in voting systems.

Stark County was getting a great deal to boot, which is what the commissioners, tasked with the county purse strings, should have also liked: The state of Ohio would cover $3.27 million of the price tag and Dominion would give a $1.71 million credit for the old machines. Stark County itself would only be on the hook for $1.47 million to upgrade its entire system.

But, again, there were those calls and messages, which grew from dozens to hundreds ass the county commissioners got set to meet with the Board of Elections to review the recommendation.

"[The Board of Elections] really aren't good on the communication end, and my job as a commissioner is to ask questions, listen to the evidence and I'll make my own decision," commissioner Janet Weir Creighton told the Repository. "This is not about Donald Trump. This is about the voter integrity of the machines in Stark County."

Dominion's integrity was, according to the board of elections, proven. Jeff Matthews, the board's director who is also the Stark County Republican Party Chairman, told the commissioners on Feb. 2 that they'd been vetted by Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners and, before ever being used, would be doubly inspected by a bipartisan group.

Still the calls came.

But the commissioners couldn't simply say they believed the lies that Dominion was a key cog in a national conspiracy to steal the election. So instead they claimed their objections were simply about money and an over-zealous Board of Elections exercising too much authority.

A resolution considered this week read, according to coverage from the Repository, that the commissioners must "conduct the business of the county with due diligence when spending (citizen's) hard-earned money, without rubber-stamping recommendations that come before it, and to seriously investigate the cost, trustworthiness, long-term viability, and other aspects of any voting system to be purchased to ensure Stark county is obtaining the best value."

The commissioners enlisted the county's budget director to review the Dominion deal and that of a competitor, Elections Systems and Software. After further inspection, they said, the Dominion deal wasn't as sweet as it first appeared. But it was still sweet. So they went back to Elections Systems and Software and got them to resubmit a new offer, this one coming in $143,262 cheaper than Dominion's.

And, with that, the commissioners had the ammo they needed to reject funding the Dominion deal, which they did in a unanimous 3-0 vote without, as the Repository notes, offering any comments.

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