SHEFFIELD TWP. — The Lorain County Board of Elections approved the purchase of new voting machines, and it hopes to have the new system in place and operational by the May primary election.
During a meeting Wednesday, the board unanimously voted in favor of purchasing ES&S hybrid voting machines. The machines new machines will allow voters to vote via a touchscreen, but then will then print a paper ballot that needs to be scanned in for the ballot to be cast.
“There are enough people in this county that like their touchscreen, which I think we get with the ES&S hybrid,” Board of Elections member Anthony Giardini said. “They also like to have that paper ballot in their hands, and I think by giving our voters that ballot they can actually put in the machine is going to give that relatively small group of people that never really trusted the electronic-only machines peace of mind.”
The price tag for the new system is $4.5 million, to be paid in 2019. The state will provide $2.8 million in funding, which means the county will be responsible for the remaining $1.7 million.
Lorain County Board of Elections Director Paul Adams said he will now go before the Lorain County commissioners and request the $1.7 million. Adams said the Board of Elections has been in communication with the commissioners about the need for new equipment.
“At this point, we are at the point where our current system — because there are parts that are no longer available or the cost of purchasing pieces of equipment that are no longer in production — has a large quantity of units that do not work,” Adams said. “Maintaining the system going forward to be able to open every polling location throughout the county, at this point, we can no longer guarantee that we can do that after this election.”
Adams said that as long as the commissioners approve the funding request, the system should be in place for the May 2019 primary election.
In addition to the $1.7 million the county would be responsible for $91,715 for licensing and a warranty each year from 2020 through 2023, which would bring the total cost for the county to $2.1 million. Adams said the licensing and warranty pricing was set by the state and is a mandatory part of the pricing agreement.
The board selected the ES&S from three proposals. The other two systems were from Dominion Voting.
“Looking at these proposals, we have to look at them long term and not just the short term,” Giardini said. “Looking at the long term, the overall five-year cost of the ES&S hybrid system is actually the lowest-cost item because the support costs are lower than the other two systems.”