When voters arrive at the polls for the April 8 election, they will use new voting machines recently purchased by Franklin County.
This week, Franklin County election judges, who help voters at the polling places, received training on the new machines.
The new equipment replaces the former election machines that were about 10 years old.
County commissioners purchased the new equipment for $414,322 last year.
Franklin County Clerk Debbie Door has defended the purchase of the new machines, saying they were needed to comply with new election laws that may be coming down from the state.
There have been a lot of election law changes proposed this year, and it is unclear what will pass, Door added.
Also, she said some of the old machines were having maintenance problems.
In addition, Door said it was the right time to buy the new equipment because the county was still able get some money from trading in the old equipment, similar to how a person can trade in a car.
Door expects everything to go smoothly on Election Day with the new machines, but she noted that there can always be glitches. But her office runs the different ballot styles through the machines to make sure they are working properly prior to the election.
In fact, Door said she thinks the new machines, which are digital, are simpler to use than the old ones.
Voters will not notice much difference since they will vote the same way by filling in a ballot with a marker and inserting it into a machine.
Before each April and August election, Door’s office trains about 250 election judges, she said. The judges make sure voters are in the correct precinct, help people check in to vote and make sure they get the right ballot.
On Thursday, the election judges heard a presentation from a representative of Henry M. Adkins & Sons, Inc., the election equipment vendor of Clinton.
The county bought 57 touch-screen voting machines and 57 optical scanners. The touch screen machines are for handicapped voters. The optical scanners are what voters insert their ballots into.
The county has 48 polling places and 52 precincts, and all of them will be in operation in the April election.
The new equipment is being paid for out of the county clerk’s election services fund and Help America Vote Act fund. There may be some financial assistance from the state, but there has been no verification on that, Door said. She has also said a contractual services account within her budget would help with the purchase.
Door explained that her office may have to borrow some money from the county’s general fund to pay for the equipment. But she said the general fund would be paid back after her office receives revenue for conducting the 2016 presidential election. Cities throughout the county pay fees to the county clerk’s office for conducting elections.
The new equipment is being paid off over three years with no interest and should be fully paid for by Dec. 31, 2015.