Cities and towns in Dale County that believed they rented voting machines from the Dale County Commission for past elections were actually renting those machines from a former county employee, Dale County Commission Chairman Mark Blankenship said Tuesday. Blankenship said he will send letters to municipalities in the county addressing changes on how to obtain voting machines for upcoming elections after confusion over how the process was handled before. For the municipal elections this summer, Blankenship said the municipalities will be able to rent the machines from Election Systems & Software (ES & S). The county obtains its machines from ES&S as well. Blankenship said the decision came after discovering that in years past, a former county employee who had access to the county’s voting machines would take vacation from the county job in order to operate a company called Voting Machines Technology, in which municipalities were billed between $200 and $500 for use of the county’s voting machines.
Blankenship said the former employee would involve other county workers who took sick leave from the county, but still used county-owned vehicles, to work with the contract company. Blankenship said an estimated $2,300 was collected per election but that none of the funds were given to the county.
Blankenship said the issue with the election machine process came up after there was confusion on whether individual municipalities were to handle the equipment for their own elections or were to rely on the county to do so.
Blankenship said the cities did nothing wrong in seeking the company’s services, but he questioned the former employee’s actions in relation to county-associated property.