XENIA — The Greene County Board of Elections (BOE) hopes to have new voting equipment in time for the Tuesday, Nov. 5 general election.
The board met with the Greene County Board of Commissioners Jan. 24, where the two groups discussed different vendors and types of machines. Next steps, in February, will include obtaining price quotes from a handful of potential vendors and looking at the machines in person.
Board of Elections Director Llyn McCoy said she aims to order new machines by the end of March, have the equipment in place this summer, go through the acceptance testing process, train poll workers in September and October, all to be ready for use in the November election.
If the board does not acquire voting equipment this year, she said, they’ll have to wait until 2021, as the secretary of state’s office won’t allow new voting equipment to be implemented in a presidential election year.
Currently, Greene County uses direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines. This electronic equipment involves buttons or touchscreens and processes data with a computer program.
“The equipment that we have still counts votes. That is not the problem. It’s working. It’s counting votes accurately. It always has,” McCoy said. “It’s starting to break down. And where it’s starting to break down is in things you can’t fix any more. The parts aren’t available. The big problem … is calibration. If you can’t calibrate it, you can’t fix it.”
Other alternatives to DREs are optical scanners, which electronically read paper ballots, and hybrids. Hybrids are a cross between the two, using both touchscreen and optical scan.
McCoy said hybrid was the least favorable option to the board overall, although one machine at every polling location will have to be hybrid for disabled voters.
According to County Administrator Brandon Huddleson, the state is providing around $1.7 million for the machines — which is what it would cost to implement the optical scanner option for the county. If the cost is higher than that, the county will pick up the additional cost.
McCoy said the board’s current preference is a touchscreen machine from vendor Dominion Voting.
“Moving backward to a paper ballot is not the way we want to move Greene County,” John Caupp, chair of the BOE, said.
Dominion is the board’s current vendor. McCoy noted they had the best customer service and support.
“The new Dominion machine looks like your cell phone or a large tablet,” Caupp continued. “It’s self-calibrating so it eliminates all those problems. It’s extremely simple to walk through for the voter. If you’re used to working with a cell phone, you’re going to be able to go through that machine easily.”
The BOE received a preliminary proposal from Dominion Voting, quoting around $3.1 million for 720 machines, which members said was just a starting point, with 720 machines being a high number.
Choosing a touchscreen machine would require one machine to be available per 175 voters. McCoy said the county has 115,000 registered voters, of which about 100,000 are “active voters.”