Arkansas must be more aggressive in replacing antiquated ballot counters and touch-screen voting machines or risk delayed results and equipment problems in the 2016 elections, election officials said Wednesday. Election commissioners and coordinators from Benton, Carroll, Crawford, Madison and Washington counties met with several state legislators for a roundtable covering voting equipment, election schedules and other issues. Those from Benton, Crawford and Washington counties in particular said the plan to replace all 75 counties’ decade-old equipment doesn’t have the needed urgency. “We need answers,” said Bill Taylor, a commissioner for Crawford County. “If we’re going to do it, we need to just do it. We need to proceed.”
Secretary of State Mark Martin announced Monday he had chosen Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software to replace the state’s voting equipment for nearly $30 million. ES&S was the source of the current fleet of voting machines.
Much remains undecided, however. The General Assembly granted permission to spend the $30 million during its regular session, but didn’t actually provide the money. No contract has been signed. The secretary’s spokesman said Wednesday the goal is to have the system ready statewide by the general election, but not for the March 2016 primary.