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Cumberland County, N.C., Needs to Replace 15-Year-Old Voting Machines. It Has Exactly One Option.

The state has only certified one voting machine, so that's the machine the county is looking at.

by Steve DeVane, The Fayetteville Observer / June 1, 2018

(TNS) — The Cumberland County, N.C., Board of Elections got a look at a voting machine Thursday that might replace equipment that used 15-year-old technology when the county bought it 12 years ago.

The county’s budgets for the past several years have included about $800,000 for election equipment. The Board of Elections hasn’t spent the money because it wanted to consider options for new machines and only one was certified by the state.

That machine, the DS200, is still the only state-certified machine.

“At this point, this is the only tabulator certified in North Carolina,” elections director Terri Robertson said. “Right now, this is our only choice.”

Robertson said the county needs to replace the machines it is currently using.

“There’s no repairs,” she said. “We’re already patching.”

Michelle Mrozkowski, a regional account manager with Printelect, demonstrated the DS200 at a special meeting of the Board of Elections. The company, which is based in New Bern, services and maintains election equipment in all 100 North Carolina counties.

Mrozkowski said 40 counties in North Carolina have upgraded to the DS200. The machine is easier for poll workers to use and provides a high level of security, she said.

If a voter has marked a ballot for too many choices in a race, the machine will notify the voter on a display screen and ask if the voter wants the ballot returned.

Robertson said the machines currently in use recognize the overvote, but the notification is less apparent, meaning voters might leave without knowing about it.

If a ballot jams in the DS200, the machine will say whether the votes have been counted, Mrozkowski said.

The existing machine does not have that type of notification system, meaning poll workers might put the ballot back through the machine even without knowing if it has been counted.

The DS200 costs about $5,600 each, but the county likely will have to pay about $200 less for each of the older machines they trade in, Mrozkowski said.

The Board of Elections is expected to discuss the machine at its next meeting June 14. The purchase would need to be approved by county commissioners.

©2018 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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