Hancock County Clerk Eleanor Straight called news that the county would soon be responsible for maintenance on its touch-screen voting machines “a surprise” with renewal of the five-year maintenance agreement due Sept. 1.
Straight told the Hancock County Commission on Thursday that all the county clerks in the state responsible for election operations just learned of the local responsibility.
In a letter to the commission, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said that the acceptance agreement approved five years ago states the county commission would take over ownership of the voting machines and be responsible for maintenance after the five-year maintenance agreement ended. At that point, she said, her office would be released of responsibility.
Straight said clerks believed when they purchased the voting machines, that the Secretary of State would continue to pay for the machine maintenance with money from the Help America Vote Act.
Maintenance of the machines will probably cost the county about $10,000 annually, Straight said. The county is required to have one machine per precinct that is handicapped accessible.
Keeping the county in compliance with fair voting standards in the Americans With Disability Act means the county has 29 machines which are handicapped accessible. That is one machine for each of the county’s 28 precincts, and one to service early voters, Straight said.
She is hopeful the state could pay for the maintenance on the handicapped accessible machines since they are required for the state to be ADA compliant.