XENIA — Greene County Commissioners May 23 agreed to fund part of the cost of the Board of Elections-picked voting machine, but declined to enter into contract with the voting machine vendor.
The two boards have been working for more than a year to choose new equipment to have in place for the November election. During a March 25 meeting, the Board of Elections (BOE) selected the ImageCast X Direct-Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machine from Dominion Voting Systems.
While the Ohio Secretary of State is providing around $1.7 million to finance the machines, the county agreed to fund the rest at $484,621. The Board of Commissioners (BOCC) have been setting aside money over the past few years in anticipation of voting machine replacement.
Currently, Greene County uses a different DRE device by Dominion. DREs allow a direct vote on the machine by touchscreen or buttons and processes data with a computer program. While the current machines still work, they are starting to break down, BOE Director Llyn McCoy has said.
“We do have confidence in the support and the staffing that Dominion currently provides us as a county. One of the big things we looked at is the voter confidence in the machines that they’re using and Greene County has been on a DRE for quite a while,” BOE Chair John Caupp said at the most recent commissioners meeting. “We believe that the voters of Greene County are now used to using electronic equipment. They believe in the integrity of the electronic equipment and looking at all the options we still believe that Dominion and the DRE is the way Greene County should stay and continue into the future.”
The commissioners said they did not ultimately approve the contract agreement with Dominion because they did not, as asked, receive information related to the actual life-cycle cost of the equipment, and because the BOE excluded one vendor, Clear Ballot, from demonstrations and consideration.
“We believe in competition and free enterprise,” Commissioner Bob Glaser said. “To exclude an approved vendor from equal consideration is not appropriate.”
Caupp replied that since all of the vendors were approved through the state, they already knew what the life-cycle costs were. He also said that most of the costs with the ImageCast X were already BOE-budgeted items.
“The board does feel that we did our due diligence looking at other suppliers and other contractors through the process of the last couple years,” Caupp said.
Commissioner Tom Koogler said he could not approve the selected vendor.
“I have the utmost confidence in the BOE and how they operate and what they’ve done. They’re the experts … Our concern here from day one has been the lack of inclusion … ” Koogler said. “One of the things that we have to be concerned about as county commissioners is that we are showing our taxpayers that we are good stewards of their money … Even though you may have selected the best vendor, the process that was used to get there we strongly disagree with.”
Other citizens in attendance expressed their concerns.
“The Board of Elections’ process has been less than transparent,” Cyndi Pauwels, of Yellow Springs, said during public comment. “And it’s unfortunate that the voters of Greene County are going to be left in a position where we don’t necessarily know if we can trust our vote.”
All three commissioners voted “no” in approving the contract agreement.
“The Board (of Elections) does intend to move forward with the contract with Dominion Voting System,” McCoy told the Gazette afterward via email.