Should a tornado or other catastrophic event cause a power outage during the Nov. 4 mid-term elections, Madison County Clerk Debbie Ming-Mendoza is fairly certain that early voting would proceed without much disruption. That’s not the case now, as the county continues to be in the precarious position of operating with two different hardware and two different software systems for its elections. But Ming-Mendoza is seeking federal Help America Vote Act funds to purchase early voting tabulators and Ballot on Demand printers and software that would bring both systems onto an even platform. The package costs $228,000 though the HAVA grant would cover the cost entirely. Ming-Mendoza said the purchase would also drop the county’s annual licensing and maintenance expenses from $98,000 to $41,000 since the it would be decreasing its election machine inventory from 162 to 17.
She noted that a catastrophe such as a tornado or flood could leave the election officials without electronic equipment for early voting as the state election statutes require. “With Ballot on Demand, I can generate paper ballots so that people can continue to vote,” she said.
Ming-Mendoza also sees the switch to paper ballots as a way to restore voter confidence and should increase early voting turnout. With the current equipment, Ming-Mendoza said she suspects that some voters have left the voting booth suspecting that she somehow knew how they voted.