County to purchase voting machines

Doug Carder / Staff Photo

Election Systems & Software representatives discuss some of the features of their voting machines with county commissioners Phil Dixon and Tyler Vaughan during a demonstration in February. Commissioners voted 5-0 Wednesday, May 15, to purchase 125 ExpressVote Tabulators from ES&S.

PAOLA — County residents will soon see new voting machines when they go to the polls.

County commissioners approved the purchase of 125 ExpressVote Tabulators for $685,220 from Election Systems & Software. The Omaha, Neb.-based vendor serves 27 counties in Kansas with voting equipment, including Johnson, Sedgwick, Wyandotte, Shawnee and Leavenworth, according to the company.

County Administrator Shane Krull said the county’s current voting machines are 13 years old and approaching obsolescence.

“The equipment is dated to the point where it isn’t supported, and parts don’t exist unless you go on eBay,” Krull said.

The county has been setting aside funds in anticipation of purchasing new election equipment, Krull said.

“It’s my understanding the cash is there to pay for it, with no financing,” Commissioner Rob Roberts said.

Financial Director Steve Lyman confirmed that.

The ExpressVote Tabulator’s kiosk version allows voters to mark their selections with a digital touch screen. The machine produces a paper vote summary card that also serves as an audit trail for election officials. After voters review their paper vote summary card to ensure accuracy, they submit it for tabulation, according to ES&S’s website.

County Clerk/Election Officer Janet White, who organized a February equipment demonstration by three vendors for county commissioners and volunteer election workers, said in a previous interview that the ES&S kiosk combines a voting tablet and scanner into one unit. The all-in-one option would allow the county to “daisy chain” by connecting several kiosks together, White said.

In an earlier written report, White said ES&S is already working with Scytl, the election night reporting software, and the company manufactures and services its own products.

“(ES&S) programming seemed to be very intuitive and easy to use,” White said.

White noted in her report three of five Election Equipment Committee members who she assembled to study the proposals recommended ES&S. All five county commissioners also favored ES&S.

White could not attend the commissioners’ meeting Wednesday, May 15, but she had gone over ES&S’s updated price quote with Krull via phone call earlier, he said.

Commissioners had asked White to contact ES&S about lowering their price. ES&S came back with an adjusted quote, and Commissioner Danny Gallagher noted ES&S also offered to pay the county $124,000 for a trade-in on its old equipment.

Amanda Curnutte, executive secretary, and Diana Dusselier, election clerk, have worked with White on the project and both were on hand May 15 to answer the commissioners’ questions.

“It’s my understanding that with this equipment a citizen can vote both digitally, and they print a piece of paper that demonstrates this is what their vote looks like,” Roberts said.

Curnutte told Roberts he was correct.

“I think the state Legislature wants Kansas to go back to somewhat of a paper (trail) by 2020,” Curnette said.

She and Dusselier said the goal was to have the equipment in place by the fall election.

One objective of purchasing the equipment this year, Curnutte said, was to allow time for training so election workers were not learning how to use a brand new system during the larger presidential election of 2020.

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com.

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