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Stark County Rejects Dominion Voting Systems After Trump Supporters Balk

A sample ballot is shown using the Dominion Voting system, the machines that have been under attack by former President Trump following the 2020 elections. [John Bazemore / AP]
A sample ballot is shown using the Dominion Voting system, the machines that have been under attack by former President Trump following the 2020 elections.

Update: 1:32 p.m., Friday, March 12, 2021

The three-person Board of Stark County Commissioners in Ohio rejected the purchase of more than 1,400 new Dominion voting machines this week. The county's Board of Elections had recommended the purchase in February, but the commissioners voted unanimously to withhold the money for the purchase following pressure from supporters of former President Trump, who falsely accused the machines of manipulating vote tallies in President Biden's favor.

For months, local Trump supporters in Stark County, home to Canton, voiced their complaints and beliefs about Dominion voting machines.

County Commissioner Bill Smith said in February that the response from local residents on whether to purchase new voting machines “far exceeded the response any of us have received on any topic to come before our board.”

Commissioners Smith, Janet Weir Creighton, and Richard Regula voted against the Board of Elections recommendations to buy the machines Wednesday, saying they had to weigh the long-term viability of the purchase.

In a statement from the Stark County Board of Elections, criticizing the commissioners, the BOE defended its decision-making process. Conversations about voting machines began as early as 2019 as the county considered options for replacing its machines.

“Our Board has always been transparent with the County Commissioners,” the board wrote. “It’s unfortunate that conspiracy theories which have been proven to be false have apparently more influence on the Commissioner’s office than the professionals at the Board of Elections.”

The BOE said it plans to meet soon to determine next steps, the statement said, but members will not address the “specious and self serving statements in the Commissioner’s resolution.”

Stark County Commissioners did not respond to requests for comment. The Stark County Board of Commissioners has not updated its website with minutes from the March 3 or March 11 meetings.

But according to the resolution, the BOE did not work with the commissioners to make its decision and provided little to no communication during the selection process. The resolution also says county officials could not replicate the cost analysis for the Dominion machines provided by the BOE in the initial hearing, which included inaccurate numbers.

The commissioners’ resolution also says: “Whenever there exists a potential cloud... or public perception or concern regarding a vendor's long-term viability, regardless of the cause or reason, the County must take a vendor’s long-term viability into account” when spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

Trump and many of his inner circle helped to create that cloud. His camp continued to spread the falsehood that Dominion machines changed votes even after multiple audits and recounts in several states and counties that used the company's equipment showed there were no issues with the machines. Now it's clear that disinformation campaign has had a direct impact on the company's business.

Officials in at least one other state, Louisiana, have backed off plans to purchase Dominion voting machines following pressure campaigns from residents, according to The Advocate.

This month, Louisiana's Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin called off the search for a company to provide the state with new voting machines after residents called Republican lawmakers demanding that the state not hire Dominion. The company was one of three bidders for the potential $100 million contract.

Following the attacks of the company's reputation, Dominion has offered to work with local officials to save its business, while company's employees continue to endure death threats.

Dominion has filed three defamation lawsuits against former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell; MyPillow and its CEO Mike Lindell; and Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Each is being sued for $1.3 billion in damages.

ideastream’s Taylor Haggerty contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.