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Supervisors approve purchase of new voting machines

The Webster County Board of Supervisors approved a purchase agreement for 45 new voting machines Tuesday morning.

The purchase order is for $141,650, County Auditor Doreen Pliner said,

“This is all being paid for by the American Rescue Plan Fund,” she said.

Pliner said each precinct will get at least one machine, but they plan to put two machines in the larger precincts.

Pliner said she understands people may be hesitant to use these new machines, but assures they are just as secure as a traditional paper ballot. The machines offer several benefits, she said..

“We will still have regular ballots as an option,” she said. ”We’re trying to encourage people to go to the new machines, they’re very handy, very user friendly. It will save on ballots for us. We’re just trying to introduce them so people are aware.”

Pliner said the machines are accessible for people with both hearing and sight impairments.

“We had a lot of elderly people who were very excited about using this because it makes it so much easier for them than trying to fill in the little circles,” Pliner said.

The machines, sold by RBM Voting, are called FreedomVote and using them will be simple. Pliner said,

“They’ll come in and register to vote and get a barcode, they scan it on the machine, and the machine brings up their precinct to vote. When they’re done voting it prints out their ballot, they put the ballot in a privacy sleeve, and they drop it either in the ballot box at absentee time or in the voting machine on election day.”

These printed ballots will be submitted in the same way as traditional ballots.

The machines offer several chances to review the ballot and make changes if needed before printing the ballot. Voters will then be able to check their choices on the paper ballot before submitting it into the drop box or ballot machine.

Pliner said, “If there’s an issue, we can void that and they can start over with a new ballot.”

In addition to being more accessible, these machines will be more COVID-concious. Pliner said,

“They will have a disposable stylus and it’s quick and easy to wipe the machine down,” she said.” It limits contact. That’s a big reason we chose these.”

Pliner said she does not expect the machines to arrive in time for this year’s voting season, but she hopes to have them in place by next year’s primaries.

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