The Boone County Commission is expected to vote Tuesday to spend $825,000 for new voting machines from Elections Systems & Software.
Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon recommended the commission follow through on a committee recommendation that Election Systems & Software’s bid be accepted over others.
“It made the most sense for us,” Lennon said, explaining that their machines had the greatest functionality and longevity compared to other options.
Lennon said her goals include replacing the aging voting system with a newer, more efficient one, enhancing security features over existing system capabilities, reducing the risk of human error and improving the overall voter experience.
New machines will allow voters with disabilities to be able to cast ballots independently with greater ease. Users can bring their own set of headphones, black out the screen and change the tempo of a recording that reads the ballot to them.
The new touch screen machines also would keep voters from accidentally or intentionally printing and casting multiple ballots because a blank ballot card that they can only get from an election judge is necessary to initiate a voting session, a report from the committee that reviewed bids said.
Anyone who decides to use the new touch screen will receive a blank ballot to feed into the machine. Once their selections are made, the ballot will be printed and can be reinserted to double-check for accuracy. After that, it can be inserted into an optical scanner to be officially cast.
Traditional paper ballots also will be available.
Thumb drives will be used to record the tabulated votes and will not be connected to a county server or the internet, allowing for more security. The system is paper-based so the official record of the election is the total paper ballots cast by voters, Lennon said.
The company’s software would allow the county to program machines to be used during absentee voting periods, therefore saving time and money.
Most voters and poll workers who tested machines offered by various companies in the spring said the Election Systems & Software equipment was their favorite.
The machines will be made available for demonstrations leading up to the 2020 elections so voters will be informed and comfortable with the new systems.The fiscal 2019 budget included $1.2 million for upgrading election equipment, meaning the county will save about $400,000.Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.