Vendors selling voting equipment competed for residents’ approval Thursday in hopes of securing a contract worth up to $1.2 million.
Vendors Elections Systems & Software, Henry Adkins & Son and Elkins-Swyers Company displayed their equipment from 4 to 7 p.m. inside the Activity and Recreation Center for residents to test and provide feedback.
Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon said the current voting equipment was purchased in 2006 and needs to be updated.
“We’ve been taking very good care of it, but technology will always have a few glitches now and then,” she said.
Lennon said the current machines count votes accurately but sometimes have small issues like paper jams. To clear a jam, a team of Republican and Democrat poll workers must open the machine and remove the crumpled paper.
She said her staff will evaluate the new equipment options for ease of use and consider public opinion before making a decision. During the equipment demonstration at the ARC, residents filled out feedback forms for the Boone County Clerk’s office to review.
Poll worker Pam Haverland said she hopes the new equipment will be faster than what the county has currently.
“Speed was an issue in the November election,” Haverland said. “The iVote machines would take 30 or 35 minutes for somebody to vote.”
She said another benefit is that the new equipment still produces a paper record, that can be used to double-check the electronic vote.
Haverland’s main concern is that Boone County residents have an opportunity to test the equipment before it is used in the 2020 presidential election.
Residents who cast electronic votes will need to navigate an iPad-like device, which all three vendors provide. Each voter will receive some type of ticket that can be scanned to access one's electronic ballot.
Once voters access the ballot, a touch screen will help them navigate through candidate options. After voting, the machine prints a paper receipt of one's vote, which is counted along with the traditional paper ballots.
Haverland said this is a step up from the old system, which required poll workers to count electronic and paper ballots separately. All three vendors have this capability.
Some saw very little difference between the equipment.
Mike Barnes, who is also a poll worker, said he thinks there are pros and cons to each vendor. Barnes said he thinks voter accessibility is the most important feature, and he doesn’t rank one vendor higher than the others.
The Boone County Clerk’s office will accept public feedback until making a final decision this summer.