Originally created 12/24/06

Voting machine maker hires former state election chief



ATLANTA - The former director of the state's elections division has accepted a job with Diebold Election Systems, the company that supplied Georgia's $75 million electronic voting machine system.

Kathy Rogers was appointed by outgoing Secretary of State Cathy Cox in 2002 and resigned Nov. 30. In her new job, she will serve as a liaison between Diebold and elections officials nationwide.

Georgia officials have already expressed concerns about Ms. Rogers' new post, including state election board member Tex McIver, who said he wants the board to discuss Ms. Rogers' job when it meets in January.

"I certainly believe this is a serious issue that the SEB needs to look into," Mr. McIver told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Secretary of State-elect Karen Handel said she plans to address the hire directly with Diebold.

"For me, as secretary of state, she will not be the liaison in Georgia," Ms. Handel said. "I think it is a conflict of interest when you have someone who ran a department basically lobbying for that particular vendor without a cooling-off period."

Ms. Handel said that after she takes office next month, she plans to enact a policy to prohibit former secretary of state employees from going to work for vendors for a specified period of time.

Some former state officials are blocked from doing business with the state for a period after leaving, but it isn't clear whether Ms. Rogers will be subject to that same prohibition.

Both Ms. Handel and Mr. McIver are Republicans, and Ms. Rogers, a Democrat, clashed frequently with GOP members of the election board. Ms. Rogers has been a staunch defender of Diebold's equipment, which has been criticized as easy to hack.