The Wisconsin State Elections Board is in the midst of a heated contract dispute with Accenture, the company hired to develop the statewide computerized voting system, SVRS.
The Help America Vote Act — passed in the wake of the 2000 presidential election controversy in Florida — requires all states to have a voter registration system.
“As of the first of January 2006, we were supposed to have a voter registration database that centralized all voters in one spot,” said Kyle Richmond, public officer for the Wisconsin State Elections board.
Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said last week the system remains incomplete.
“Accenture was supposed to have a working computerized voter registration system … [and] it is more than a year and a half past deadline,” McCabe said. “We still don’t have a completed statewide voter registration list.”
The state of Wisconsin, McCabe said, already paid Accenture over $9 million and should withhold the final $2 million payment until the system is working properly.
“The system has delays and all kinds of glitches and problems,” McCabe said. “Accenture says the project is done and wants final payment … but the product doesn’t work properly.”
Over 300 clerks, McCabe added, have outstanding requests for system repairs.
“Currently, if local clerks try to print out absentee ballots, sometimes the system generates absentee ballots for different communities.”
But Accenture says they completed the voter registration system as promised.
“Accenture continues to fulfill all contractual obligations," Accenture spokesperson Peter Soh said in an e-mail to The Badger Herald. "SVRS has been successfully used in the last six elections in Wisconsin."
Prior to the federal mandate, Wisconsin did not have a statewide voter registration system, Richmond said.
“Municipalities had their own databases, but there were large parts of the state that prior to this list did not have voter registration at all,” Richmond said.
Wisconsin, Richmond added, only required areas with populations over 5,000 to compile voter registration lists.
Although statewide voter registration is a good idea, it is not necessary for Wisconsin, McCabe added.
“I don’t think it’s an essential thing to have,” McCabe said. “I don’t think [Wisconsin] would have taken on this project if not for the federal mandate.”