Votes cast in Gage County for the 2016 elections will be processed through a new machine aimed to tally more quickly and with fewer issues. The County Board voted unanimously to purchase a DS850 machine from Omaha-based Election Systems and Software (ES and S) during its Wednesday meeting. Dawn Hill, County Clerk and Election Commissioner, said the current machine, a 650 model, is prone to several issues, adding hours to the counting process on election night. “The machine that we currently have now, I did confirm with ES and S and that was manufactured in 1996,” Hill said. “We have issues with slow ballots, jamming, it stops. It does read correct — I want to make sure everyone knows we do not have a problem with reading the ballots and totaling the votes. We do have an audit performed.”
The DS850 will cost $105,487, and an annual maintenance cost of around $4,000, which includes software updates. The current ballot counting machine is owned by the state.
While Hill emphasized the current machine’s final counts are accurate, board member Matt Bauman pointed out it may be wise to upgrade before issues arise.