Thanks to the recent passage of a state law, the Delaware County Board of Elections will be able to avoid the purchase of additional voting machines next year.
Senate Bill 200 maintains a ratio of one machine for every 175 registered voters in the county. But it also allows counties to subtract absentee ballots cast in the previous presidential election from the county of registered voters.
“Quite a few counties didn’t have the money or feel like they needed the equipment,” said Delaware County Board of Elections Director Karla Herron.
Herron is the president of the Ohio Association of Election Officials, which supported the measure.
However, Herron said she does have some concerns if elections reforms are put in place that reduce the number of absentee voters in the next presidential election. In that case, she would recommend the county buy more machines, she said.
The Delaware County commissioners were pleased that the legislation passed, although it will still require Gov. John Kasich’s signature to become law.
“It appears on the surface that this will negate us spending $75,000,” Commissioner Gary Merrell said.
Commissioner Dennis Stapleton credited the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) for fighting for the change.
“I’m not sure this would have happened without CCAO,” he said.
In a letter sent to the county earlier this year, the CCAO also warned that counties could soon be forced to use newer voting machines, making the purchase of soon-to-be out of a date technology frivolous.
“It seems silly to buy machines that you have to turn around and replace,” O’Brien said.
Herron estimated the county would need to purchase about eight electronic voting machines to comply with the previous law. In the past, the board of elections has purchase refurbished machines for about $1,800 each.
The board of elections has purchased about 30 machines the past two years and budgeted money for additional purchases this year.