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County provides preview of voting equipment options PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 16 February 2018 12:42

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ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times



Seward County voters will soon get a chance to choose the next set of equipment they use to cast their ballots.

Thursday, the county clerk’s office gave people the chance to look through equipment from three certified election system vendors, all from Kansas, and officials with each company were on hand to demonstrate the machines.

County Clerk Stacia Long said the county is slated to purchase new voting equipment in 2018, and she said the equipment presented by the three companies was all very similar.

“They have all gone through federal certification as well as the state of Kansas,” she said. “I do believe they are all touch screen capable and will also produce a paper ballot for scanning. They are ADA compliant.”

As an election official, Long said she is looking at several factors in the new equipment.

“How much room do we need to store the equipment, how easy is it to set up, how easy is it for my poll workers and also getting information from the public in what they like and dislike about it,” she said.

People could choose from the three companies, Election Systems & Software, Henry M. Adkins & Son and Election Source. They were given paper ballots to indicate their choice. Long said it could be a while before new equipment is decided on.

“I am asking for public comments,” she said. “I’m going to take a look at some of that information and probably sit down with each vendor and find out exactly what we need as far as equipment goes and then ask for formal bids from each one, and we’ll go from there.”

Long, though, said she does hope to begin utilizing the new machines as early as this year’s August primary.

Long has been working with the county clerk’s office for more than 20 years, and she said the equipment currently used for local elections is practically the same as that used when she first started working for the department.

“The only difference is in 2014, we were required to go to produce a bilingual ballot,” she said. “That forced us really to go to a touch screen voting system, but we continued to use the optical scan system that we use. It’s more than 20 years.”

Long said another factor that played a part in the need for new machines is the lack of vendors with replacement parts for the current ones.

“Before it stops working, it’s best to go ahead and replace it,” she said. “I approached the commissioners probably three years ago and just mentioned that eventually, we’re going to want to look at getting new equipment. They’ve kind of known for several years, and they just decided let’s go ahead and do it.”

Long said even in today’s age of paperless technology, there is still a nationwide demand for paper ballots for elections. She added she did hear a few complaints about the current machines too, and this likewise played a part in the decision to get new equipment.

“We did have the summary screen, but people just wanted the piece of paper after they cast their ballot,” she said. “I do think that they will appreciate this, and they will be able to see exactly what they voted and cast their ballot and have opportunities to change their mind if they want to before they cast it.”

Long said whatever machines are decided upon, she is excited to have more ease and less time with reporting election totals, improving the overall election process.

“It’s going to be completely different than what we used to have where each machine, I had to upload each memory card,” she said. “If I had 30 machines, I had to upload 30 memory cards. In this case, we’ll have probably three scanners, and that’s what the memory will be.”

Long said the memory card is installed in the scanners on the new equipment, and this means rather than having to upload 30 to 50 cards as she now does, that total is reduced to a mere three cards.

“I will be able to report totals a lot quicker,” she said. “I haven’t seen all the reports that they generate, but I do believe they’re fairly user friendly reporting as far as we can create PDFs to get the information out to the public.”

As for which company she prefers, Long said she really has no preference among the equipment presented Thursday evening at the Administration Building.

“I’m open to all three of them,” she said. “I have been at conferences. They’re always at our conferences as a vendor, and I have been looking at all of them for quite some time now. I really don’t have one favorite over the other. That’s one of the reasons I’m asking for public input and for the public to come in and take a look at the equipment and provide feedback.”

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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