The Ross County Board of Elections is facing an unexpected $18,525 cost because of a state requirement to change batteries in all its voting machines. Director Nora Madru delivered news of the directive, which was issued by Secretary of State Jon Husted, to Ross County commissioners at their Tuesday meeting. The life of the batteries, which are soldered into the machines, is supposed to be five to seven years, Madru said. Machines in Ross County and across the state are approaching the life expectancy of the batteries. “With a presidential election coming up, you don’t want to take a chance,” Madru said, adding that officials don’t have a choice in the matter anyway.
According to Husted’s Dec. 30 directive, the decision was made because of “a growing number” of reports from county boards regarding card failures as a result of a malfunction with an internal battery. “This battery failure did not jeopardize any votes that were cast and counted on the voting systems, but prevented the machines from being used until a new card could be inserted and the machine rebooted,” the letter reads. Husted’s letter also acknowledges the late timing of the directive — coming after most counties had finished their budgets.
“However, as we evaluated the data of machine problems due to battery failures from counties this year, and knowing that we only receive reports on a fraction of the actual number of such problems, we determined that it would be irresponsible in light of preparation for 2012 for this office to not issue this Directive,” the letter states. The vendor for the machines, Election Systems & Software, will be looking to replace two different batteries beginning in June. A combined 485 batteries are needed for machines with one type costing $65 each and the other $13 each.