New election machines win county vote
Douglas County’s current electronic voting machines were likened Thursday to an old vehicle that is running but just barely.
“After the last election, it became apparent we needed to start replacing our equipment,” Clerk-Treasurer Kathy Lewis said.
The county’s voting machines were purchased in 2004 with federal funds.
Lewis said the county budgeted $500,000 this year to replace the machines.
“We were also at the Legislature to impress on them that this was not just a county issue,” she said. “If one system goes down it’s not just going to be the county that’s in the news. It’s going to be all of Nevada.”
Through that lobbying effort, lawmakers budgeted $1.8 million to help the counties purchase new voting machines.
With 17.1 percent of the active voters in the 15 rural counties, Douglas is eligible to receive $249,527 from the state to defray the cost of the machines.
On Thursday, commissioners agreed to purchase 139 new machines from Dominion Voting Systems. They will replace the 178 machines the county currently uses.
Lewis said the new machines will have the same interface as the old machines, but will be lighter and easier to store. Because they are easier to move, she said they can be used for both early voting and Election Day. The machines should be in place in time for the primary next spring.
The system includes high-speed absentee ballot scanners and enhanced controls.
Annual maintenance costs of $21,040 and election set-up of $11,000 have been shifted to the county, but Lewis said the state has budgeted to cover the costs during the next two years.
“These costs are nothing new,” she said. “But they were always at the state level. The state has money this biennium and it is their intention to keep paying this. We are working on a plan to cover costs in future.”
The new machines will permit a one-step check-in process that will allow real-time voter participation results and report length of lines at voting locations.
Security measures associated with the new system includes installation of close-circuit security cameras in election and tally rooms.
Voters will still get to review a paper ballot with their choices before casting their ballot.