PINE BLUFF — New voting equipment arrived in Jefferson County early Wednesday morning.
Two semi-trailers were filled to capacity with 148 ballot markers, 148 stands, 80 poll tablets and printers, 41 vote tabulators, and assorted miscellany intended to bring the county up to the latest standard in voting hardware and software.
The equipment, supplied by Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems and Software, was part of a $2.7 million purchase made by the Arkansas secretary of state’s office using state and federal funds to provide the newest generation voting equipment to nine Arkansas counties that lacked adequate funding to share the cost of purchase with the state.
By the March 3 primary, 64 Arkansas counties had upgraded to the new ExpressVote voting system, purchased through a mixture of local, state, and federal funds. The nine remaining counties — Bradley, Conway, Fulton, Jefferson, Lee, Monroe, Newton, Searcy and Stone — were notified last month that they would receive the equipment without having to come up with matching funds after the covid-19 pandemic resulted in a sharp economic downturn.
Even before the pandemic, Jefferson County had made it clear that it would be hard-pressed to come up with matching funds to qualify for state assistance to make the purchase. The estimated $940,000 cost of the machines would have required Jefferson County to fund just over $321,000 out of county funds. County officials had been saying for months that declining revenues had left the county with barely enough funds to cover its ongoing obligations.
Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.