DeSoto County officials feel they are entitled to receive compensation for ongoing maintenance costs of the county’s fleet of election machines just like other counties in Mississippi, despite the fact the county chose another type of machine a decade ago than the one preferred by the Secretary of State’s Office. DeSoto County is one of five so-called “opt-out counties” that chose to purchase optical scanning machines or M-100s rather than a touch-screen voting machine known as a TSX. Other counties which opted out of buying state-sanctioned machines are Yalobusha, Hinds and Rankin counties. Thompson said she has since been told there is no money for the upkeep and maintenance of the five “opt-out” counties. Thompson said maintenance costs for DeSoto County’s machines top $30,000.
“Why is DeSoto and the opt-out counties not included in the state maintenance plan?” Thompson asked. “I want some money or at least an explanation why?”
During the push to have updated, handicapped-accessible voting machines, DeSoto County purchased 40 optical scanning machines in the year 2000 under the Help America Vote Act or HAVA.
Subsequently, DeSoto County bought four Auto Marks handicapped machines in 2005. The county purchased five additional machines in 2011. The county now has a total of 45 M-100s for use at the county’s 39 precincts.
Thompson said the optical scanning machines purchased by DeSoto County have very little maintenance costs compared to the touch-screen machines purchased by the state’s 77 other counties.