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Wapello County Planning to Upgrade Voting Equipment

By Ellis Codjoe, January 12, 2018

The Wapello County Auditors Office is planning to upgrade the equipment that local voters use to cast their ballots.

Auditor Kelly Spurgeon told Ottumwa Radio News that the equipment currently in use by the county was last upgraded in 2006, “So it’s several years old now. We haven’t had any problems but I don’t want to wait until something goes wrong before we upgrade.”

The new equipment will be furnished by the same company that built the equipment currently in use by the county.

“Everything is going to be pretty much the same,” Spurgeon said. “The machine that you put your ballot in will have a new computer screen that says your ballot was counted.”

Spurgeon says the county will also invest in new handicap accessible machines. “They are smaller and operate differently than the current method. Anyone who votes on those will be given a blank sheet. They will insert it into the machine and the ballot will be shown on a touch screen. After voting, the machine will print out the ballot on the blank sheet.”

She says the touch screen machines will save some money on printing ballots. Spurgeon also says the touch screen machines may also be utilized in smaller elections where fewer voters are expected, in order to save on printing costs.

One additional upgrade could greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to release results after the polls close on election night. The new machines have an option to include a built in modem, which could instantly send the results back to the auditor’s office.

“I spoke with Jasper county, who uses this now,” Spurgeon said. “On a general election they are out of the office by about 9:30 P.M.”

The cost of the new equipment is expected to be in the $150,000-160,000 range. Spurgeon says that if approved, the county is likely to use the Local Option Sales Tax to fund the purchase.

The new equipment is expected to be delivered in February.  Spurgeon says she is planning a demonstration or open house so the public can interact with the new equipment.

The Wapello County Board of Supervisors is expected to approve the purchase at their regular meeting, 9:30 A.M. on Tuesday, January 16th.

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