Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Reagan blames IBM for failure to mail Prop 123 pamphlets ...

... IBM responds with big razzberry.

Would 200,000 pamphlets made a difference? We'll never know. Secretary of State Michele Reagan broke the law by not getting those pamphlets out to voters in 13 counties before sending the early ballots, according to AG Mark Brnovich. But, according to the AG, "there is no remedy in statute."

SoS Reagan, while accepting blame for the failure of her office, cast blame on IBM. IBM bounced that one right back at her. Snippets from the story at Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) follow.

Representatives of IBM say Michele Reagan is off the mark in blaming the tech giant for a high-profile blunder in which the office failed to send 200,000 publicity pamphlets for the May 17 special election, and that the secretary of state instead is to blame.

The Secretary of State’s Office attributed the snafu with the publicity pamphlets to a “vendor error,” and said the vendor in question was IBM.

But the company said it was in no way responsible for the un-mailed pamphlets. In fact, IBM’s contract with the secretary of state expired two months before the Reagan’s office learned of the problem.

Reagan’s office stood by its insistence that a vendor error by IBM caused the problem, saying the company did not sufficiently respond to a request for information about how to use the software system to compile mailing lists.

Under the terms of its contract with the Secretary of State’s Office, IBM provided software maintenance, support and enhancements for the office’s Statewide Voter Registration System. That contract expired at the end of February. IBM lobbyist Dean Miller said Reagan’s office had concerns about the cost of the contract, which ran about $800,000 per year.

Miller said IBM helped develop and integrate software in 2011 so it could be used by the Secretary of State’s Office. As part of its work, Miller said IBM worked with Secretary of State’s Office staff to create what he called a “functionality key.” Essentially, it was a way for the office to extract mailing lists from the state’s database of voters.

However, IBM had no responsibility for actually using the software, Miller said. IBM’s only role since 2011 has been to maintain the software and update it as needed. The responsibility for using the software to compile mailing lists lies with the Secretary of State’s Office, he said.

“In terms of carrying out the functions and duties of that office, that would be, of course, their responsibility,” Miller said.

[Reagan spokesman Matt] Roberts said the office first became aware of the un-mailed pamphlets on April 22, and confirmed the problem on April 25. Reagan’s office mailed out the pamphlets on April 29, he said.

Election officials sent out early ballots on April 20. State law requires that the secretary of state send a publicity pamphlet containing information about ballot measures to all households with at least one registered voter before those voters receive their early ballots. Attorney General Mark Brnovich concluded that Reagan broke the law by not sending out the ballots in a timely manner, though he said there is no remedy in statute.

EJ Montini at azcentral.com has some choice words about the snafu.

Responding to a letter from attorney Tom Ryan, who tried to get the election delayed because of the snafu, Brnovich wrote:

“Even if the Secretary of State’s failure was the result of mere neglect, one thing is certain – the Secretary violated Arizona law. Questions abound; not only how the Secretary of State failed to fulfill her duties in connection with this elections, but also as to why there was no public disclosure regarding the failure to timely mail the publicity pamphlets until mere days before the initial counting of early ballots. … These questions demand answers. Arizona voters, especially those who were deprived of publicity pamphlets , deserve to know why this failing occurred and what can be done to protect them in the future.”

He's right, of course. But Gov. Doug Ducey and the legislature, who were behind Prop. 123, haven’t shown any sign that they’re interested in correcting the problem.

And from their point of view, why should they?

The pamphlets didn’t get delivered on time; their side won the election.

What’s the problem?

Voting "R" all down the ballot is free. It costs nothing in cash. It costs nothing in mental effort. So Republican voters get a free ride ... until it comes to the incompetence of the public officials they elect. As Alfred Newman said, "What, me worry?"

 

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