LIMA — Allen County voters may be using new voting machines by the time the May primary election rolls around.
In 2018, the State of Ohio allocated just over $1 million to Allen County to purchase new voting machines as part of the Voting Equipment Acquisition Program, and this past November, former Secretary of State Jon Husted notified county boards of elections that they can begin the acquisition process.
This month, Allen County has has taken the initial steps to do so, working to update its contract with Election Systems and Software, a voting equipment company, to bring in updated equipment that should make ballot-counting more efficient and faster.
Board of Elections Director Kathy Meyer said the new machines will incorporate both paper and digital systems to take a picture of ballots as they are run through an optical scanner. Pictures will be saved, and the actual ballot will still be available if problems are detected.
Voters, however, won’t see much difference in what they need to do during election day. They’ll still be using a paper ballots, but the ballots will be housed in plastic ballot boxes instead of metal ones. As for election workers, they should be able to publish election results at a quicker pace.
After contracts are negotiated, Meyer said, both the State of Ohio and Allen County Commissioners will have to approve the use of the funds. The county also has the additional cost, roughly $22,000, to provide training and project management to push the purchase along. Final cost of the new machines, provided by the state, is expected to be $624,000.
The county is also moving its plans forward to relocate the board of elections into the former law library space at 204 N. Main St., Meyer said. The board of elections has helped create tentative floor plans, and a front door has already been added to allow for better street access.
Other counties in the region are also pursuing plans to update their voting machines. In Putnam County, the board of elections has contract discussions on its agenda in March in order to finalize details on a new voting equipment purchase.
In Auglaize County, the county’s board of elections has already purchased updated machines that use optical scan technologies within the last few years. Auglaize board Deputy Director Peggy Matheny said the board has been satisfied with the new machines.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.