Hamilton County Getting New Voting Machines To Replace 1998 System

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hamilton County will be getting new voting machines to replace those that date back to 1998.

"For the election last November, we just prayed our way through it that the machines would hold up," Election Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan said.

She said the new $1.2 million system will be very similar to the current models.

"The voter won't see much difference. You will still run a paper ballot through a machine," her top assistant, Scott Allen, said.

The Election Commission on Wednesday morning voted to purchase the machines from Dominion, a privately owned company founded in Toronto with voting systems in over 600 jurisdictions in 22 states. Dominion bought out the firm that sold the machines to Hamilton County in 1998. Kelvin Scott voted no. He apparently preferred the other finalist, Unisyn. Jerry Summers did not vote, saying he had not had prior notice and had not seen the contract.

The federal government will pay all the costs of the new voting system.

Election Commission Chairman Mike Walden noted that an earlier election panel voted to purchase the current system in 1998 before there were funds for reimbursement. Other counties in the state who bought the system later got their costs covered, but Hamilton County never did.

Mr. Allen said it will be a tight timetable, but the new machines should be ready in time for the May primary election. It will take three months to manufacture them, then election workers will need to be trained on them.

Dominion included a five-year warranty built into the purchase price.

Only Dominion's system can sort write-in ballots separate from regularly voted ballots, it was stated.

Ms. Mullis-Morgan said, "Dominion is currently our vendor for election equipment. Having worked with them since 2010, we have experienced excellent customer service and support during this time. Thus, we are confident that the implementation of and transition to their proposed new system would likely be very smooth and require less implementation time on the part of the election staff."

"Also, the Dominion voting machine is very similar to what we currently use, so the learning curve for poll workers and voters should be minimal."  


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