Greene County is replacing its voting machines just ahead of the November General Election.
The Greene County Board passed an ordinance during special session in the first week of September granting $400,000 to be used for replacing the now-outdated machines.
Greene County Clerk Debbie Banghart says the current machines date back to 2004 and reached the end of their life cycle 8 years ago. Banghart says they have been nursing along the old machines or the last few years by carrying spare parts and doing maintenance after each election cycle.
Banghart says that voters won’t be seeing much difference when they step into the voting booth in November: “Basically, there’s not going to be too much of a difference except for the fact that on our old machines, which is what we call a touch screen or TSX machine, the person could actually touch the screen and they could look off to the side to make sure they voted they wanted to on a piece of paper. That paper would then roll up into the machine and we would keep that for archival purposes in case we would have to have a recount or anything like that. These new machines will actually print out a paper ballot. You’ll touch who you want to vote for and it will then print out that ballot for you and you’ll have to physically take it to another machine [to be counted]. It’s more of a marking device than it is anything else.”
The county is getting 23 regular paper ballot machines and 32 touch screen machines, which is the exact same amount the county currently uses during elections. Banghart says that the county’s election judges are trained and ready to go on the new machines.
She says the new voting machines will make things run quicker after the polls close on Election Night: “These machines are faster than the old ones. You are talking about machines that were 18 years old, so the technology has changed so much as far as speed. It would be like taking an old dot-matrix printer and trying to print something out, where these are quick. With the old machines, the OS unit, which is the paper ballot machine, when we were tallying all precincts here at the courthouse, it would take approximately 3 hours for that tape to print out. We have to print 2 of these out. We usually get the first one going, and that’s what we use for Election Night and then, the second one we would just let it run until we get done. That’s all on the old OS unit. These new machines here, they tell me it will print everything out in about 20 minutes.”
Banghart says with the cost of the machines, the maintenance, plus software licensing, the purchase will be under the $400,000 budget set by the county board.