Tuesday, 09 March 2021 15:11

ADA-compliant voting machines to be demonstrated to Richmond County elections board

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ADA-compliant voting machines to be demonstrated to Richmond County elections board RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Board of Elections this week will get demonstrations on two brands of voting machines.

While the county has “fairly new” tabulators, the elections board has been renting a piece of equipment that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Elections Director Connie Kelly.

According to VerifiedVoting.org, the AutoMARK “is an electronic ballot marker designed for use by people who are unable to (manually) mark an optical scan ballot due to physical impairments or language barriers.”

The board would be looking at purchasing about 20 machines, Kelly said, adding that there has to be one for each precinct and one per one-stop site.

Kelly said there is money left over from federal COVID-relief funds the board can use — and must use it or loose it by the end of June.

She said the rental cost has increased and this would be “an opportunity to buy almost what we need” of the ADA-compliant equipment, adding it would save the county about $69,000 if the board used the federal funds for the purchase.

Even though the board would be using federal dollars, the Richmond County Board of Commissioners has to approve the purchase.

Both meetings will be virtual due to ongoing government-imposed gathering restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hart InterCivic Verity will demonstrate its machine from 1-2 p.m. Wednesday, and Election Systems and Software’s demo will be Thursday from 10-11 a.m.

Kelly said the board will most likely opt for the ES&S machine, so it will be compatible with the rest of the local voting equipment. In 2019, the board approved the purchase of 25 DS200 scanner and tabulator devices.

Following the Thursday demonstration, the elections board will hold its monthly meeting to discuss the budget. However a decision on the new machine will not be made until after March 15, following a simulated election to test the equipment.