Butler County election officials are shopping around to replace their problematic six-year-old touch screen voting machine system. But where the money will come from is a multi-million dollar question.
Elections Director Tippi Slaughter said one thing is for sure: The $3.4 million touch-screen machines that are favored by voters are out. “There’s been enough of a question,” Slaughter said about dumping the user-friendly touch screens for an optical scanning system. “We want the best voting system for the voters.”
Not only has the county seen its share of glitches and dropped votes with touch screens, the machines also have become an added expense, she said. They have to be tested and calibrated frequently. A band of 50 troubleshooters are on patrol each election day in case any foul-ups occur. “We have to be very vigilant,” Slaughter said.
Problems with dropped votes in Butler County during the 2008 March primary sparked a state investigation and a lawsuit from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. About half of Ohio’s 88 counties use the touch screen system and installed them around the same time as Butler County in 2005.
The state settled with Premier Election Solutions last year, but Butler County officials refused to accept that settlement. They are currently in mediation with Premier hoping to secure a better agreement.