MARTINEZ (CBS SF) — A three-year contract extension with SOE Software Co. for election reporting software was approved Tuesday by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, waving off critics who implored the supervisors to go with a different company.
And though little or no discussion of this seemingly routine action had been anticipated, several public commenters questioned why Contra Costa County would go with a company whose parent is based in Barcelona, Spain, instead of an American company. SOE, and its parent Scytl, have also been tied to Internet election irregularity rumors.
“There are so many questions,” one woman told the supervisors. “Why not a Silicon Valley company?”
Contra Costa County signed its first contract with SOE Software Co. in 2015, three years after SOE was purchased by Scytl Secure Electronic Voting, based in Spain. Scytl has since declared bankruptcy, and the Paragon Group subsidiary Service Point Solutions acquired Scytl, including its U.S. subsidiary SOE, in October.
There have been Internet rumors that, before the Nov. 3 presidential general election, the U.S. Army raided Scytl offices in Frankfurt, Germany, ostensibly to seize computer servers that contained evidence of voting irregularities. Several sources, including both the Army and Scytl, said that assertion is not true; the company said it doesn’t have offices or servers in Frankfurt.
On its website, Scytl denies ever providing any electronic voting machines to U.S. states, counties or cities, and stated that the company doesn’t “tabulate, tally or count votes in U.S. public elections.”
One caller Tuesday went as far as to tell the supervisors they need to “uphold the Constitution,” and that the public will vote against the individual supervisors should they not support what he called “better oversight” of elections.
The supervisors, led by John Gioia, shut down that discussion.
“I will not let conspiracy theories be validated here in Contra Costa,” Gioia said. “These claims have no evidence, and no basis in fact.”
Supervisor Karen Mitchoff agreed, but said contracts like the one the supervisors ultimately approved Tuesday should be more thoroughly shared on the county website ahead of their discussion at meetings.
In extending the contract through the end of 2023, the supervisors increased the overall payment limit to SOE by $200,000, to a new limit of $590,000 for web hosting and election night reporting.
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