Election Vendor Imposes Surcharge on Texas Counties for Voter Registration Software

A California-headquartered election services company has levied significant additional fees on several prominent Texas counties, placing election officials in a frenzy to meet the surcharges to sustain an essential voter registration system ahead of the state’s primary runoff elections next month.

VOTEC, the firm in question, holds contracts with multiple Texas counties to furnish software crucial for maintaining their voter registration systems. However, the company’s recent demands for supplementary payments have caught these jurisdictions off guard. Despite attempts to reach out for clarification, VOTEC remained unresponsive to inquiries from The Associated Press as of Thursday.

Reports from the nonprofit news outlet Votebeat shed light on VOTEC’s communication to the affected counties, indicating that the imposition of a “one-time” surcharge stems from some jurisdictions falling behind in payments. Additionally, the company cited financial strains caused by issues with its payroll and health insurance provider as further justification for the surcharge.

Daniel Ramos, the Executive Director of the Office of Management and Budget in Harris County, the most populous county in Texas encompassing Houston, disclosed that the county has been slapped with new charges amounting to $120,000. Given the indispensable role of the software, Ramos asserted that the county intends to settle the dues promptly.

Collin County, housing the suburbs of Dallas, revealed that it was burdened with a surcharge totaling $42,341.

In response to the unfolding situation, the Texas Secretary of State’s office stated that it is actively engaged in discussions with the affected counties, providing guidance on navigating the challenges posed by VOTEC’s actions.

According to Votebeat, VOTEC holds a significant position as one of only three authorized providers of voter registration software in Texas. Its software is extensively utilized by 32 counties across the state. While VOTEC also operates in Illinois and Nevada, reports indicate that it has not imposed similar surcharges in those states.

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