The race is on to replace Washington County’s decade-old voting equipment before the 2016 presidential election, the county’s election coordinator said Thursday. Two vendors will meet with election commissioners as part of the companies’ statewide push to grab Arkansas’ next voting equipment contracts, said coordinator Jennifer Price during the commission’s first meeting of the new term. California-based Unisyn Voting Solutions and Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software are both angling for the state’s attention, Price said. Election Systems & Software provides the state’s current equipment and support. New contracts could net either company tens of millions of state taxpayers’ dollars, Price said. “It’s the money that’ll be the holdup,” Price told the three commissioners, who oversee all city and county votes. “The state appropriating the money is the biggest hurdle.”
State assistance covering the cost isn’t guaranteed but would be vital, Price said later in an interview. Replacing Washington County’s equipment alone could cost between $500,000 and $1 million.
“It’s just something that we all know needs to happen,” she said of state help. “It’s desperately needed — 2016 will be such a heavy election year that we really do need it, and 2015 is the shelf-life of the equipment that we have right now.”
The county’s ballot-making programs and ballot-counting machines were last replaced a decade ago, arriving just a month before the 2006 primary, Price said. She and the commission have said for months the equipment is outdated, with its Windows XP operating system and two separate programs for paper and electronic ballots. The two programs don’t mesh, which the commission has blamed for slow ballot counts in past elections.
If new equipment comes, the earliest arrival likely would be late this year, Price said.
Full Article: New voting machines could be on horizon, official says.