Forsyth County election officials got a close-up look Wednesday at elections equipment that they are interested in buying. Representatives from Printelect, a supplier of Election Systems & Software equipment, set up equipment for demonstrations at the county government center. Mac Beeson, regional sales manager for ES&S, demonstrated how the equipment works. Steve Hines, Forsyth County’s elections director, put in a budget request this year for about $1.4 million to replace the county’s voting equipment, which is about 10 years old. County commissioners will decide this spring whether to approve the request. Elections administrators from several other counties in the region also stopped by to see the demonstrations on Wednesday.
Many counties have old equipment that they want to replace. They also are facing a change in state law. Beginning in 2018, the only voting systems that will be allowed are those that produce a paper ballot, which will knock out the current touch-screen voting machines that many counties, including Forsyth, use. “We’re looking to see what’s on the market,” said Ruth Huneycutt, Davidson County’s elections director.
Currently, Forsyth County uses electronic voting machines at early voting sites and paper ballots on Election Day. Forsyth County will have to start using paper ballots at early voting sites in 2018 unless it gets a voting machine that produces a paper ballot and has been approved by the state, or there is a change in state law.
Hines would like to purchase 130 ExpressVote machines, if they are certified. Voting systems have to be certified by the State Board of Elections to be used in elections in North Carolina. ES&S is still trying to get ExpressVote certified.