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State awards Washington County $1.2 million in new voting equipment

by Scarlet Sims | May 20, 2016 at 1:02 a.m.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The state has awarded Washington County about $1.2 million of election equipment, said Jennifer Price, election commission coordinator.

"We are getting the new voting equipment," Price said. "We're excited."

The Quorum Court accepted the equipment during its meeting Thursday.

The county put aside $420,000 for the equipment.

Election commissioners have said they were worried the state wouldn't provide equipment in time for the general election Nov. 8, which is expected to have a large voter turnout. The county's equipment is from 2006 and was starting to break down, Price said.

The Legislature passed Act 151 of 2015 allowing the secretary of state to replace election equipment up to $30 million, but no money was set aside to pay for it.

In April, seven election commissions, including Washington County, sent lawmakers a letter urging the state to allocate money. The secretary of state's office confirmed Monday Washington County would receive the equipment, Price said.

The state is slowly replacing voting equipment. About $2.5 million was approved for Boone, Columbia, Garland and Sebastian counties last year. Washington and Yell counties were allotted money this week, Price said.

Washington County will receive 188 voting machines, 50 counting machines and 118 poll books, Price said. Those numbers could change. The commission plans to meet at 8:30 a.m. Monday at the courthouse to discuss the issue.

The equipment will be easier on voters, Price said. Voters will insert a ticket with a barcode into a machine displaying the voter's ballot on the touchscreen, he said. The voter will get a printout of his ballot to check, she said. The printout is inserted into the counting machine.

"It's very voter friendly as well as poll-worker friendly," Price said.

The old equipment will be traded back to the company providing the machines, Price said. The state also will handle the new equipment's maintenance, she said.

Chris Powell, secretary of state spokesman, didn't email or a message left at his office Thursday.

NW News on 05/20/2016

Print Headline: County to get new voting equipment

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