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Settlement on voting-machine monopoly

MIAMI, March 9 (UPI) -- The nation's largest provider of voting machines agreed to settle a civil antitrust lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of several states, officials said.

Election Systems & Software will sell off hardware, software and other assets acquired in a $5 million purchase of Premier Election Solutions, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

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The merger would have made Nebraska-based ES&S the only voting-machine provider in 65 of Florida's 67 counties, said Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, one of the officials bringing suit.

A monopoly the size of ES&S would be bad for democracy, he said.

"This divestiture action will provide greater competition, which is critical to ensure that vendors continue to develop accurate, reliable and secure systems and provide those systems to our election administrators at competitive prices."

An ES&S monopoly could have meant bad service for too much money, a Florida election official said.

"I'm happy that we'll have choice in the elections process,'' Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho said.

ES&S said it anticipated a "resolution" soon.

"For over 30 years, our focus has been on supporting the election-related needs of the jurisdictions and customers we serve,'' the company said in a written statement.

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