Greene officials eyeing new voting machines from 2 vendors

Elections officials around the country are either implementing new voting systems or considering doing so this year, and officials in Greene County are taking a close look at new systems from two vendors.

Election Systems & Software and Dominion Voting Systems presented their machines to commissioners, elections board members and poll workers on Wednesday.

RELATED: Greene County may stay with touch-screen voting

Each company offers machines that enable voters to cast ballots electronically or combine electronic voting with a printed paper ballot.

“We’re looking for something that’s going to be seamless for our voters, for our poll workers … so that they have the same sort of experience,” said Llyn McCoy, Greene County elections board director.

The costs range from an estimated $1 million to switch to paper ballots only, up to around $2 million for electronic voting or hybrid systems, McCoy said. That’s not counting the $1.7 million allotment that the state is providing for Greene to purchase new machines.

McCoy and elections board members say they’ve had good success with Dominion’s direct-recording electronic systems, or touch-screens.

RELATED: Early voters often deal with long lines in Greene County

“We’ve found with those machines, the voter counts are accurate despite what you may hear … They really are the most accurate,” McCoy said. “We want to get away from people handling paper ballots because that’s when you find mistakes and errors.”

The new machines won’t be in place for the May election, but the hope is to get the systems in and poll workers trained by the summer before the November election.

Mark Breckstrand, regional sales manager for Dominion, said his company is selling machines to other counties in Ohio and have about a 40 percent share of the market nationwide.

The best voting machines take into account the experiences of voters, poll workers, administrators and others, Breckstrand said.

“(Voters) want to get in, they want to get out, they want to walk out the door feeling that their vote was successfully and safely counted, that they weren’t disenfranchised nor did they have to wait in line for a long time,” he said.

ES&S representatives said their company has about 60 percent of the market share nationwide, and new ES&S machines have been bought in 13 Ohio counties in recent weeks.

Gene Seets, ES&S regional vice president, said the trend nationwide is going toward centralized voting centers, such as in Indiana, where 75 machines are set up in one location that is open to voters in the weeks ahead of an election.

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“Ten or 15 years ago, the time to vote was on Election Day,” Seets said. “I think what we’re going to see more of is opening up early voting sites … and expanding that application … A lot of people are shifting to accommodate more absentees, more accessible early voting sites.”

Early voting is popular in Greene County, where more than 9,000 early voters cast their ballots in-person at the elections office in November.

Many had to wait in long lines because of the check-in process, but that shouldn’t be the case this year.

McCoy said a new Ohio law eliminates the applications and envelopes that early voters once had to fill out. Now early voters will just need to present a driver’s license, and a utility bill, similar to the requirements during Election Day.


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