The Caroline County Board of Supervisors Tuesday night approved the purchase of 11 new voting machines that will likely be installed before the November election. Members of the electoral board and the county’s voter registrar asked the board for $50,763 to purchase optical scan voting machines. The county currently uses touchscreen voting machines. John Nunnally, vice-chair of the electoral board, told the supervisors that all localities are facing an unfunded mandate from the state that they replace their machines with optical scan machines by 2016. That means that instead of touchscreen machines, voters would use a paper ballot and feed it into the optical scan machine. Nunnally said the change could cut down the time it takes to vote and reduce lines. The machines the county has now are about 10 years old and have problems that require more immediate replacement, according to a staff memo. Additionally, the memo says that if the county purchases the machines now, the county will get a better deal than waiting until 2016, when there is more competition and more localities are in the market for the machines.
There are 13 precincts in the county, including one for the central precinct voting. Three of locations have two precincts, but only need one machine each. So, 10 machines would be at precincts, one would be at the central precinct, and one would be a backup to be used if needed. The maintenance on the machines will cost about the same as the current machines, so the electoral board did not ask for additional money to cover it.
Nunnally said that the electoral board looked at three different bids and selected Dominion Voting to purchase the machines. They got a $10,000 discount from the company because the county allowed the company to use it as a test site during another election to help the company get a certification.
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