For the past several days, Dent and county staff have been negotiating a purchase price for optical scanners with paper ballots, such as those used in Manatee County, manufactured by Diebold Election Systems Inc.
"They haven't been the most cooperative," Dent told the commission. "Diebold's proposal came in at almost $4 million."
Sarasota County Commission Chairwoman Nora Patterson immediately objected to the price, stating it was almost $1 million more than the proposal that was originally presented to the board...
Sarasota County com-missioner Jon Thaxton suggested the county consider another company called Dominion Voting Systems that manufactures voting machines in Canada, but Dent said the company is not certified in Florida.
"Well, I get the feeling here that we are being subjected to a little bait and switch game," Thaxton said, referring to Diebold's offer. "I'd tell them to take a hike."
Dent also said the county's charter amendment that now requires an audit of each election to be performed within 24 hours of the close of polls will be expensive because an independent, nonpartisan auditing firm will not legally be able to touch the ballots.
Therefore, she will be required to have staff from her office physically hold the ballots while they are being audited.
County attorney Stephen DeMarsh agreed.
"What appears to be a ridiculous scenario is, in fact, ridiculously true," Thaxton said.
If an election is contested, Dent estimated a full audit could cost up to $1.6 million.