The Franklin County Commission on Tuesday took under advisement a $414,322 bid for new voting machines.
It was the only bid the county received for the equipment, and it was from Adkins Election Services of Clinton.
County Clerk Debbie Door said she was disappointed no one else bid and said the cost was a little higher than she expected.
However, she said she should still be able to make it work with her budget. The company’s bid of $414,322 is the amount after the county trades in its old equipment for $65,168.
If approved, the new equipment would be available for the next election in April, Door said, adding that she hopes it could last 10 years.
The new equipment is needed because the current machines are becoming outdated, according to Door.
The county also has to be ready for any changes in election law, Door said. There were about 70 election reform bills in the last session of the Missouri Legislature, she said.
“There’s a lot of election reform going on all over the country, and we have to make sure we keep up with it,” Door said.
She noted that voter ID and early voting are two of the bigger reforms being discussed, and the county must have equipment that complies with state and federal guidelines.
“We have to go with (equipment) that is certified by the state,” Door said.
Just like any other technology, the county’s election equipment cannot last forever, she said. The county has had its current election equipment since around 2004.
The printers in the machine that provide the vote totals have failed in some cases, and the replacement parts are getting harder to find, according to Door.
Likewise, some of the scanners that voters insert their ballots into have rejected ballots or required voters to insert them multiple times.
Even with the problems, Door said votes have not gone to the wrong candidate.
But she said she would not want to go through another presidential election with the current equipment, noting that she runs a “smooth and clean” election.
“There’s just some mechanical things that are starting to cause problems,” she said.
Voters without disabilities will continue to vote in the same manner, which involves filling in a paper ballot and then inserting it into an optical scan machine. Voters with disabilities would continue to use a touch-screen ballot with the equipment that was in the bid Tuesday. The new handicap-accessible voting equipment will have some upgrades, Door said.
The bid covers the cost of 57 optical scanners that voters insert their paper ballots into, 57 handicap-accessible voting machines, software and services.
County commissioners may consider approval of the bid next Tuesday.
To pay for the equipment, Door said she has about $150,000 between her Help America Vote Act Fund and her election services fund. Also, she said she has about $100,000 in a contractual services fund. She said she will use as much as she can out of those funds to pay for the new equipment.
Any balance would be covered by financing the equipment over three years with no interest, Door said, noting that the equipment would be fully paid off by Dec. 31, 2015.
Cities pay the county 5 percent of the cost of an election, and that money goes to the election services fund. Cities also pay the county a fee for using the election equipment, and that money goes to the HAVA fund.