City Clerk Calls for New Voting Equipment in Peabody, Mass.

Aging technology and hard-to-find replacement parts have prompted the call to replace the city’s 13-year-old voting machines with new optical scanners ahead of the 2020 presidential elections.

by Ethan Forman, The Salem News, / March 21, 2019
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(TNS) — The city clerk is asking for money to buy new voting machines.

The city's 13-year-old AccuVote voting machines still work fine, but they are no longer being manufactured. City Clerk Tim Spanos is asking for $115,700 to replace them with new Imagecast Precinct Optical Scan Tabulators and ballot boxes.

The money for the new machines is tucked into $4.65 million worth of capital requests before the city council finance committee Thursday night. If the committee recommends the spending, the proposal will go to the full council for approval next week.

Spanos said the new voting machines will be an upgrade for the city.

"It's more in tune with today's technology," he said of the Imagecast system.

Since the city's current voting machines are no longer being manufactured, Spanos said it will become more difficult to find parts for them if they break down.

He said the new voting machines will be more reliable, has a full audit capability and has state-of-the-art security.

"The new system will provide a secure voting system for the city for the next 10 to 15 years," Spanos wrote.

The purchase price includes 19 ImageCast Precinct bundles, which includes tabulators and ballot boxes for the city's 19 precincts, plus three spare tabulators. "The purchase price also includes a post warranty maintenance fee, firmware license, two training sessions, on site coverage for testing, and on site coverage for the first election.

"It is critical that the city purchase the new voting system this year and be online for the September/November 2019 election cycle in order to prepare for the 2020 elections cycle (March, September and November)," Spanos wrote.

This is Spanos' second attempt to put a new voting system in place. He became city clerk in July 2005, and the city switched to the AccuVote system in 2007, the same year AccuVote's parent company stopped making the machines.

Spanos is set to retire at the end of this year. He had originally planned to retire June 30, but he delayed it partly to oversee the voting machines' replacement.

The old voting machines will be traded in and the company will use them for spare parts.

Spanos said quite a few municipalities are facing having to replace the old AccuVote voting machines.

Danvers Town Clerk Joseph Collins said the town is getting the new ImageCast voting machines in time for the May Town Election.

Beverly City Clerk Wes Slate said the city replaced its AccuVote machines a couple of years ago with ImageCast voting machines. The city purchased 12 machines for the city's 12 precincts plus a spare for $74,947.

"The clerks tend to share information among us," Slate said, "because we follow the same requirements."

Slate said the city used the ImageCast for the first time during the 2017 municipal election.

Beverly had been setting aside money in its budget to purchase new voting machines, and finally pulled the trigger when two different AccuVote machines failed during an election. Slate said officials at the time were able to repair the machines, which were 20 years old.

©2019 The Salem News (Beverly, Mass.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.