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Jefferson County looks at new voting machines
JEFFERSON COUNTY- By Jennifer Gordy
Jefferson County voters may see new voting machines when they cast their ballots next year. The county clerk would like to see a new system that might help prevent human errors that have caused delays in vote counting in the past. When people go to Rogers Park or any of the other early voting locations, they need some help to cast their electronic ballots.
Voter Patsy Brumfield says, "I think we waste a lot of time with someone taking us around to the places. I mean, we are capable of walking around there and voting." The proposed system commissioners are looking at would change that. Jefferson County Clerk Carolyn Guidry says, "The voter has a particular access code they can activate their own ballot."
Guidry invited a representative of Hart Intercivic to Commissioners' Court Monday. He demonstrated a system Guidry wanted back in 2005 when the county decided to buy a different system, the one still in use today. Guidry says, "I don't know why they went with that other system. This was a cheaper, better system." A system that doesn't require pollworkers to close each machine.
That requirement and a mistake in how it was carried out caused a long delay in determining the outcome of a race in the March Fourth primary.
Guidry says, "The incident that we had that hindered our tabulation for the primary election because of the way that you close with this type of system those things would be avoided." Perhaps avoided, but at what cost to taxpayers? Jefferson County Commissioner Eddie Arnold says, "That's the big question. One million five is a pretty big bite."
A federal program paid for most of the cost of the county's electronic voting system, nearly two million dollars. That program isn't around and the county will have to fund a new system. Still, the county GOP chairman, Billy Oliver, says there's little wiggle room, "What we have is no longer being manufactured. So, parts are going to be unavailable. Maintenance is going to be an issue and availability to replace what we have is going to be an issue. "
Voter Cecile Gordon says, "If it works, it sounds great." Voters who are open to change. A county deciding whether to open its checkbook to pay for the improvements.