With help from Dane County, Waunakee could be one of many municipalities replacing their vote tabulating machines by next year. Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell announced that the county would pay half of the cost to replace the machines, in a press release recently. The press release cites “reports of vote-counting machines smoking, sparking and breaking down during the last election” and urges municipalities to upgrade the equipment. While Waunakee Clerk Julee Helt has never witnessed such dramatic breakdowns in Waunakee’s machines, she does remember one snafu, she said. “We had one situation midday when we were off a number,” she said. “Sometimes, people get a ballot then decide they don’t want to vote for anybody.” But the clerks have to be accountable for each number they give out for a ballot.
“The last number needs to match the number in the machine,” Helt said. During one election, the machine apparently failed to record the vote.
“At the end of the night, we had one ballot the machine did not read,” Helt said. Fortunately, it was a small election, so the clerks recounted the ballots by hand, she added.
… The new devices would be DS2000 optical scanning machines. Voters would continue to use paper ballots, not touch screens, but the machine tabulates the ballots electronically. Each comes with a 4-gigabyte external jump drive that contains the vote tally as well as a digital image of each ballot.