AccuPoll to acquire NTS

Touch-screen voting machine maker AccuPoll Inc. plans to buy NTS Data Services Corp., a provider of voter registration applications and election support services.

"AccuPoll's proposed acquisition of NTS will create a full-service election company," said Frank Wiebe, president of AccuPoll, in a statement.

Controversy over touch-screen machines, formally called direct recording electronic (DRE) machines, is increasing as the 2004 presidential election nears. Some computer scientists and public interest groups, fearing the possibility that fraud or error could affect the outcome of the election, want e-voting devices to produce paper receipts that voters can inspect. The receipts would then be stored and available if a manual recount were called for.

Advocates of the machines, however, say that they already include needed safeguards. The machines provide much greater access to polls for people with disabilities, and offer automatic protection against voter errors that would be cause for a paper ballot to be thrown out.

AccuPoll officials have sought to address skeptics. The company developed a voting machine that produces a paper record and had it federally qualified earlier this year.

As a combined company, AccuPoll and NTS will provide voter registration and other election services to 7 million voters in 60 counties in six states, according to AccuPoll officials.

The companies did not disclose the agreed-upon purchase price, but said the acquisition is expected to close by Aug. 30.

Earlier this week, VoteHere Inc., a provider of election audit technology, provided its source code to the National Institute of Standards and Technology for analysis. The federal Election Assistance Commission had requested that e-voting companies submit their codes to NIST.

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