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Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 @ 4:00 AM
Voters in Greene County will use new voting machines in November that county elections officials say were the best choice among various options and vendors.
The new machines from Colorado-based Dominion Voting Systems arrived Monday at the board of elections office on Ledbetter Road and staff is testing the equipment to ensure it’s working accurately.
The state is subsidizing counties to upgrade their voting systems and Greene County received $1.7 million in state-funding for the purpose. County records show commissioners approved spending $484,621 for the equipment. Ongoing annual costs of $155,000 include fees for licensing and software, according to John Caupp, elections board chairman.
“The commissioners were prepared. They have been putting money aside for the expenditure,” Caupp said. “I feel pretty confident we came in extremely competitive.”
County elections officials evaluated elections systems by several vendors, but opted to stay with their current vendor Dominion and to continue using the touchscreen voting systems as opposed to the more costly hybrid systems, which incorporate both electronic voting and paper balloting.
Llyn McCoy, Greene County elections board director, told WHIO’s Gabrielle Enright the equipment that’s being replaced had calibration problems and at times would alert voters if they didn’t press a button correctly.
“Those problems have all been erased,” McCoy said. “For voters who were used to our old touchscreens, it’s going to be a very similar experience, but hopefully a lot easier, a lot more streamlined.”
McCoy said there is still a voter verified paper trail” of each ballot that is cast, but county elections offices generally use memory cards to tally votes.
“Everything is all in one piece,” she said. “Paper ballots are the ballot of record in Ohio no matter what kind of equipment you’re using.”
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Caupp said the new machines are “self-calibrating” and look and function like “giant tablets.”
“You can touch it anywhere in the box on the name, it’s going to cast your vote,” he said. “If you miscast it, you touch another box and it will cast for another person.”
While county commissioners voted on the expenditure to sub-lease the equipment, they voted against directly entering into a contract with Dominion. The elections board signed the 10-year agreement, which expires in 2029, officials said.
During discussions prior to the vote, Commission President Tom Koogler and Commissioners Bob Glaser and Dick Gould said they had confidence in the elections board’s decision to choose the right vendor, but they wanted more details on costs from all the vendors before entering a long-term agreement, according to county records.