LIMA — With approval by Allen County Commissioners, the Allen County Board of Elections is on track to receive new voting equipment prior to the primary election on May 7.
The move gives the county two opportunities to smooth any potential election wrinkles before the 2020 presidential election between President Donald Trump and one of the many Democratic challengers who have announced their plans to run. Like other presidential elections, the 2020 election is expected to have a high turnout.
Allen County was allocated just over $1 million by the State of Ohio to purchase new voting equipment. Tuesday morning’s approval by the county sets up the contract with Election Systems & Software to use state funds to purchase 50 new machines and accompanying equipment at a cost of just under $638,000. If more machines are necessary, the county still has access to the remainder of the state’s allocation until 2023.
“It will still be there for us,” Board of Elections Director Kathy Meyer said. “If we need it.”
To go forward with the purchase, the county approved a $13,263 expenditure to pay for employee training with the new machines. An additional $11,000 in county dollars will be needed in the next five years to pay for extended warranties and software costs.
During the upcoming election, the 50 scanning machines will be set up at the 37 voting locations in the county. While the county will acquire more than what’s needed for every voting location, additional machines will be stored and swiped out if another machine requires repairs.
Like older machines, the new equipment uses a mixture of paper ballots and optical scanning software. Unlike previous machines, voters will be able to submit ballots into the scanning equipment personally. Results are then stored on special thumb drives before being sent to the state.
Ultimately, the new machines will be able to make tabulating results quicker for Allen County.
“(The new scanner) runs so much faster than the old one,” Meyer said. “We’ll be able to do so much more with the equipment.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.