WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Federal investigators are looking into how a Nebraska firm, Election Systems Software, won a $50 million contract to provide the city with new optical-scan voting machines, a law enforcement source confirms.
In January the City Board of Elections voted six to one to chose the company over another voting machine manufacturer. Frank Mangone, who lobbied the city on behalf of ES&S, was indicted by a federal grand jury for his alleged role in an unrelated Yonkers political corruption case in January, right around the time the city made its pick.
According to city records, ES&S spent more than a half million dollars to lobby the city. Mangone's lawyer says his client believes there was nothing improper in the awarding of the voting machine contract.
ES&S supplies voting equipment to four countries and 41 states. Earlier this year, the U.S Department of Justice settled an anti-trust case against ES&S because the DOJ and several state Attorneys General raised concerns that the company was on the verge of capturing 70 percent of the voting machine market in the country.
A call to the City Board of Elections was not returned Friday and an ES&S representative was not able to get a company response by press time. As part of the New York State Board of Election effort to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act, it certified the machines made by ES&S and Dominion Voting, a Canadian company.
It was then up to local authorities to decide which vendor to use. ES&S won out in New York City, Nassau, Rockland, Albany, Schenectedy, and Erie Counties.
More than 50 other county voting agencies went with Dominion Voting.