Local Government and Elections and Government & Economic Development and Government

Election lobbyist chairs Marion County clerk race

November 7, 2013

A lobbyist for a voting machine company that is interested in running Marion County's elections also is directing the campaign of a Democrat who wants to oversee those elections, raising questions about a potential conflict of interest.

Kip Tew, a former Democratic Party chairman and Statehouse lobbyist, is chairing the campaign of Frank Lloyd while also representing Election Systems and Software LLC, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The Nebraska-based company previously held the county's elections contract but lost it in 2009 over widespread problems with the 2007 primary.

ES&S recently expressed interest in winning back the contract, which the Marion County Elections Board is considering putting up for a bid. Six other companies also have signaled their interest.

Lloyd, a Democrat who currently serves as the Marion County coroner, announced Wednesday he is running for Marion County clerk. Incumbent Beth White announced Monday she would run for Indiana Secretary of State.

If Lloyd wins, he would administer county elections and hold a seat on the three-member elections board that decides which company gets the contract.

Tew said Thursday he saw no immediate conflict of interest but would consider ending his representation of ES&S if Lloyd wins election.

"There's no conflict," he said. "There could be one in the future, but there's not one now."

A formal request for contract bids has not yet been issued.

ES&S held the contract for the Marion County elections during 2007, when widespread problems were reported with the primary elections. They later lost a bid to RBM Consulting in 2009, according to minutes from the elections board.

White, a two-term county clerk, created the opening when she announced she would seek the office overseeing state elections. Lloyd is set to face Myla Eldridge, Indianapolis elections director, in the Democratic primary. Republican Christine Bischoff has also formed an exploratory committee for the open seat.

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