NATIONAL NEWS

Voting company makes ‘coercive’ demand of Texas counties: Pay up or lose service before election

Apr 5, 2024, 1:16 PM

A voting company owner on Friday acknowledged making a “coercive” demand of 32 Texas counties: Pay an additional surcharge for the software that runs their voting registration system, or lose it just before November’s elections.

John Medcalf of San Diego-based VOTEC said he had to request the counties pay a 35% surcharge because several agencies in multiple states, including some of the Texas counties, have been late to pay in the past and his company had trouble meeting payroll.

He characterized the charges as a cry for help to get enough money to avoid losing key employees just before November.

“It is coercive, and I regret that,” Medcalf said. “We’ve been able to get by 44 of 45 years without doing that.”

The surcharges have sent Texas’ largest counties scrambling to approve payments or look at other ways they can avoid losing the software at a critical time.

Medcalf said that VOTEC would continue to honor counties’ contracts for the remainder of their terms, which run past Texas’ May primary runoffs, but that most expire shortly before November.

“It’s either pay now and dislike it or pay with election difficulty,” Medcalf said, adding that he didn’t expect any contracts to actually be canceled.

The bills are for 35% of two major line items in the existing contracts, Medcalf said.

Texas’ Secretary of State’s office said Thursday that it was consulting with counties about their options.

The biggest county in Texas, Harris, has already said it will pay its surcharge of about $120,000 because the system is so crucial.

National News

Associated Press

Widespread power outages from deadly Houston storm raise new risk: hot weather

HOUSTON (AP) — As the Houston area works to clean up and restore power to thousands after deadly storms, it will do so Saturday under a smog warning and as all of southern Texas starts to feel the heat. The National Weather Service in Houston warned that with temperatures hitting around 90 degrees (32.2 C) […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Man shoots his 6-month-old baby multiple times at home near Phoenix, but child expected to survive

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — A man shot his 6-month-old baby multiple times Friday at a home northwest of Phoenix after taking the infant and its mother captive, but the mother escaped with minor injuries and the child was expected to survive, authorities said. They said the status of the suspect remained unknown after a fire […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Missouri candidate with ties to the KKK can stay on the Republican ballot, judge rules

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A longshot Missouri gubernatorial candidat e with ties to the Ku Klux Klan will stay on the Republican ticket, a judge ruled Friday. Cole County Circuit Court Judge Cotton Walker denied a request by the Missouri GOP to kick Darrell McClanahan out of the August Republican primary. McClanahan is running […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

UN experts say South Sudan is close to securing a $13 billion oil-backed loan from a UAE company

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. experts say South Sudan is close to securing a $13 billion loan from a company in the United Arab Emirates, despite the oil-rich country’s difficulties in managing debts backed by its oil reserves. The panel of experts said in a report to the U.N. Security Council that loan documents it […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

A murderous romance or frame job? Things to know about Boston’s Karen Read murder trial

BOSTON (AP) — A highly anticipated trial in Massachusetts involving a woman accused of striking her Boston police officer boyfriend with her SUV and leaving him for dead in a snowbank is finishing its third week on Friday. The case has garnered national attention because the defense alleges that state and local law enforcement officials […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

US security alert warns Americans overseas of potential attacks on LGBTQ events

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department renewed a global security warning Friday for Americans overseas, adding to it that LGBTQ people and events in particular face an “increased potential for foreign terrorist organization-inspired violence.” The alert is a standard renewal of travel advice telling Americans to exercise increased caution against possible attacks by violent extremist […]

12 hours ago

Voting company makes ‘coercive’ demand of Texas counties: Pay up or lose service before election