The Franklin County commissioners approved a $747,000 purchase Tuesday of a on-demand system to provide ballots to voters who prefer to mark their election choices by hand on paper.
The equipment and related software package, to be installed by St. Louis-based KnowInk LLC, should reduce the number of preprinted paper ballots, said Ed Leonard, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections. Poll workers would use the secure system to print ballots at polling locations when they’re requested instead of in advance.
“It results in only printing the paper ballots that are actually used,” Leonard said. “It doesn’t result in wasted, unused paper ballots, that also have to be stored. … (The new system) will essentially pay for itself within two or three election cycles.”
Elections officials are required to have backup, paper ballots on hand at polling places. For the coming presidential primary, that would mean multiples of 4,800-plus different ballot configurations, depending on where a voter lives in the county.
The new system will work seamlessly with the touchscreen ballot marking system implemented by county elections officials last year, Leonard said.
In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved a contract of nearly $4.2 million for improvements to the Trabue Road Bridge over the Norfolk Southern Railroad in the western part of the county.
Complete General Construction, with offices on the Northeast Side, will handle the work.
Additionally, county officials signed off on a contract with Chicago-based Falcon Correctional and Community Services to review medical and nursing care at Franklin County’s two jails and offer recommendations for improvements.
The study will cost $18,000.