Richland County Set To Purchase New Voting Machines

  • 1/17/2019 5:02:21 PM
  • Tyler Warner
  • Local News

RICHLAND COUNTY - County Board of Elections officials and Commissioners met Thursday afternoon to compare and discuss the potential purchase of new voting machines from two separate companies. 

The two options included a hybrid (paper and electronic) system developed and sold by Election Systems & Software and an electronic DRE (direct recording equipment) system developed and sold by Dominion, the company responsible for Richland County's current voting hardware. 

The ESS hybrid system features a printed paper ballot that is placed inside a machine where the voting is done and then scanned into a second, larger machine. The Dominion DRE system is a self-contained single unit with a small printer affixed to its side for easier ballot creation. Richland County Commissioner Tony Vero was on hand discussing the machines with voters, gauging interest in either device. Vero has been at the forefront of researching and choosing the new machines for Richland County and one of his points of emphasis for this upcoming purchase is cost. 

"Cost is important. It appears right now the DRE system, because they're the proprietor of our current equipment, they can offer a significant trade-in rebate which we aren't getting from the hybrid system." Vero also voiced concerns regarding transport and storage of the Hybrid system. "With the hybrid system, you have to have those giant scanning machines. They do not collapse. We have 45 polling locations, 80 something precincts. You have to have at a minimum 45 giant machines to collect your ballots. Furthermore, Presidential elections, you have a lot more voters. Probably going to need two at every location, so you're looking at investing a significant sum of money into equipment that you most often won't use."

Vero also voiced concerns about transporting and storing the machines and the strain that may put on the board of elections resources.

Jeff Wilkinson, Chairman of the Richland County Board Of Elections urged voters to get out and use their votes in the future by pointing out that taxpayers pay for these machines. He also expressed disappointment that new systems need to be purchased, stating the current equipment was only purchased just 15 years ago.

Exact quotes for the purchase are not made public at this time but will be at a later date. A final decision on what machines to move forward and purchase is expected on January 24th.

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