By January of next year the Franklin County clerk’s office will have 125 new iPads to be used at polling places during four elections in 2020.
On Tuesday, the county commission approved the purchase of the iPads from Henry M. Adkins & Son, Inc., based in Clinton, Mo., for the price of $108,750.
The commission order states the purchase will take place over two fiscal years. There will be 63 units coming out of the 2019 budget year, and the remaining 62 units being purchased in the 2020 budget year.
Clerk Tim Baker, who is the chief election officer for the county, said this was a large expense he knew would be necessary when he came into office at the beginning of this year.
He hopes the new machines will last the county for nearly a decade.
“I know the price seems pretty astronomical, but when you break it out over eight to 10 years, it’s not that bad,” Baker explained. “The current batch of iPads were purchased in 2011. We know how to take care of equipment and we’re hoping to get many years out of the new iPads.”
Two companies were in contention for the contract and both proposals were evaluated and scored by an evaluation team on both written and face-to-face demonstrations, resulting in Henry M. Adkins & Son, Inc. ranking the highest.
Baker added the county has been doing business with this company for about 28 years in other forms.
“I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this company,” Baker said. “We had election judges come in and test the new iPads and systems and everyone agrees it was the best. “
Using an iPad to sign in for voting is nothing new in Franklin County and there are only slight changes in the new hardware and software.
Baker said multiple iPads will be sent to polling places depending on their volume and they will be able to access voter information stored inside.
Although the iPads can communicate with each other, as a security measure, none of them will be connected to the internet.
If questions do arise about a voter’s information, election judges will have to call the clerk’s office by telephone to resolve the issues.
“I think the voters will be happy with the system,” Baker said. “The only difference is these iPads will have a metal case that flips instead of a plastic one that swivels. The system we’ve had was good, but this one has a few more bells and whistles and a better flow.”
There are four elections scheduled in Franklin County in 2020. The largest of those will be the August primary and the November presidential election, which four years ago broke records for the number of voters who cast ballots.
Baker said voters can expect to see the new iPads in place and ready for action by the April 2020 contests.
This will be a full replacement of the county’s iPad inventory and once the old machines are stripped and cleaned of any and all voter information, they will be placed on public auction for the county to possibly recoup costs from them.