Delaware County Board of Elections recently got a heads-up from the Ohio Secretary of State on an upcoming directive for replacing voting machines.
“I think their target date is to have all 88 counties replace all their equipment before 2020,” said Karla Herron, director of Delaware County Board of Elections.
Herron said the cost to replace the current voting machines would be in the “ballpark of $3.5 million.”
The board maintains 719 machines for the county’s 153 percents.
“They (Secretary of State) are telling the board of elections that they need to meet with county commissioners to formulate their needs for voting equipment for this year.”
Herron said the state wants to know the needs of each county, the budget and how many machines they require for voting.
“I think essentially it will be like a survey,” Herron said.
Trying to avoid surprises, the board of elections has had prior conversations with county commissioners about the replacement of the county’s voting machines.
“We’ve had ongoing discussions with our commissioners for a year on this,” board member Steve Cuckler said.
“The current machines were purchased in 2005,” he said.
Cuckler said funding for the machines came from a federal program that flowed down to the counties through from the state.
“The big question is, is there going to be federal and state money there to pay or at least subsidize the purchase? If there’s not, in many way it’s a futile exercise in my opinion,” Cuckler said. “We need to update the machines, we need new machines, but $3.5 million is a lot (of money) for the county. Is there going to be state dollars there?”
Herron said in the meeting with the state secretary’s office she was told that 12 out of the 88 counties have already replaced their voting equipment.
After last fall’s presidential election, officials believe the new machines must meet high standards of security.
Sam Kinderd, emergency preparation for the board, said right now with the disarray of the Federal Election Commission, there aren’t enough people to vote on what the standards will be for machines.
“They have to set the standard,” Kinderd said. “Who is going to drive the standard? Whatever vendor has the latest and greatest and can convince them this is the standard is probably what they are going to go with.”
On a lighter note, board members gathered to celebrate Bruce Burnworth’s retirement from the board.
Cuckler said when it came to Burnworth and himself, no matter what the other person’s politics were, they could put their differences aside. “Ultimately at the end of the day you can leave as friends and fight for democracy,” he said.
“These guys are great friends,” Burnworth said. “We don’t always agree politically. Putting politics aside we do get along pretty well. I try to play devil’s advocate quite a bit. Somebody’s got to … try and encourage camaraderie, loyalty and friendship because I believe that’s what keeps an election honest.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.