Community members are invited to test four potential new types of voting equipment at the Clark County Board of Elections before the board makes a final decision.
The board recently received state money to buy new voting equipment before the May 2019 election — but it wants the final decision to come down to the people who use the machines.
“We want the voters of Clark County to tell us what they want,” said Clark County Board of Elections Director, Jason Baker. “It’s $1.2 million of your money that we’re going to be spending.”
Baker said with the money, the board will be ideally buying 105 to 110 voting scanners and between 55 and 60 ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) devices that help voters mark a ballot.
Clark County and Champaign County haven’t upgraded their voting machines since 2005. A bill signed earlier this year by Gov. John Kasich will allow county election boards across Ohio to purchase a new generation of voting machines. The bill will allow the state to give out about $114.5 million across all counties for the new equipment.
Baker said the fall 2018 election was “a rough one,” dealing with the older machines the board currently uses.
“We had 15 back up machines, and we had to use them all,” he said. “We can’t do that anymore. We need to have machines that are reliable. I was grinning ear to ear thinking this (was) the last election we’re going to be using (those) things.”
Baker said the board has narrowed down the pool of potential types of voting machines to four companies. The board of elections will host four demonstrations where the public can test drive the new equipment.
Each demonstration day will feature one of the four vendors.
During that time, anyone can fill out a ‘fake ballot.’ They then can ask questions about the functionality or the security of the machine to representatives from the companies who will be present at the demonstrations.
Baker said the board told the vendors, “You have to sell it to the voters if you want us to buy it.”
Baker said the process is very casual and people are free to “come and go” within the alloted trial time.
The board of elections is also asking voters for their feedback about each of the vendors, so they can consider voters’ preferences before making a final decision.
Each company will demonstrate their machines from 1 to 4 p.m. on the day designated below:
Wednesday, Dec 5: Dominion Voting Systems (https://www.dominionvoting.com/)
Thursday, Dec. 6: Hart Inter Civic Inc. (https://www.hartintercivic.com/)
Wednesday, Dec. 12: Election Systems & Software (https://www.essvote.com/)
Thursday, Dec. 13: Clear Ballot (https://www.clearballot.com/)
The Board of Elections will have a special meeting later in December to determine the final vendor.