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Lorain Commissioners OK donation of old voting machines to Medina County

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ELYRIA – Some older voting machines and other voting equipment used by Lorain County will be donated to Medina County, and voting equipment that is no longer useful will be destroyed. The Lorain County Board of Commissioners approved the donation and destruction of the equipment from the Lorain County Board of Elections Wednesday morning.

The equipment, which includes voting units, headsets, keypads and encoders, will be destroyed by the Lorain County Solid Waste Management District. Board of Elections Director Paul Adams said the old equipment that was first purchased around 2004 is obsolete.

Ohio law mandates the method of destruction of voting equipment.

“It’s not only the disposal but its’ also making sure the data in the items that are disposed of is properly removed.”

If the equipment isn’t properly destroyed, Adams said sensitive and personal voter data could be recovered in some way. The Solid Waste Management District will use a certified vendor for data destruction make sure the voter data is removed and the physical items are destroyed.

The donation to Medina includes more than 90 voting units, printers and readers, which will be used predominantly for spare parts.

The Lorain elections board received about 1,100 new voting machines worth $4.6 million in early February, funded by $1.7 million from the county and $2.8 million from the state. The equipment also includes scanners and other items.

The new machines are made by ES&S and are considered hybrid voting machines.

Adams said the new system will have voters sign in at the poll book and receive a blank ballot card with his or her precinct information. The voter will then insert the ballot card into the voting unit and select choices. The ballot is then printed with the voter's selections for review, and, if correct, is inserted into the scanner by the voter and the ballot is counted.

The elections board in Lorain chose the hybrid system over a paper system for several reasons, Adams said, including accuracy, bilingual requirements for the county, cost and comfort for voters. The hybrid system will help avoid possible errors by poll workers, who could pull the wrong ballot for a voter. The system also allows the county to avoid printing a mandatory number of ballots so it has enough for the possibility of larger-than-expected voter turnout.

Contact Bruce Walton at (440) 329-7123 or bwalton@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Facebook @BWalton440 or Twitter @BruceWalton.


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