Lynchburg is test-driving new voting machines in hopes of replacing its current system’s machines that are nearing 10 to 20 years in age. The electoral board has assembled a focus group of precinct officials, disability community advocates and political party representatives to meet with the four vendors who’ve either been certified by the state or are in the process of being certified. The board has been making the case for a new citywide system for some time now, and City Manager Kimball Payne’s new budget proposal recommends earmarking $300,000 for the project. The new balloting system, if given the green light by City Council, would rely on paper ballots, as a 2007 state law bars the purchase of new touch screen voting machines.
Lynchburg currently offers a choice of paper ballots or touch screen voting. But the paper ballot scanners are 20 years old and the touch screens are approaching 10 years old, officials said.
“You can’t roll the dice but so far,” John Cobbs, electoral board secretary, said of the aging system. “We’ve got the big presidential election in 2016, and we don’t want anything to fail because we didn’t upgrade the system.”
The focus group meetings started last week and will include individual sessions with each of the four vendors: Election Services & Software, Election Services Online, Dominion Voting and Hart Intercivic.