MEDINA — Medina County commissioners approved the purchase of 750 voting machines Tuesday for use by the Medina County Board of Elections.
The board selected the ExpressVote universal voting system, manufactured by Election Systems and Software, or ES&S, that could be in operation as soon as the general election in November.
The machines use touch-screen technology and produce a paper ballot. That ballot will be placed into a scanner afterward, which will read the voter’s selections.
The new Hybrid 2 machines will cost about $4 million. The state will contribute about $1.8 million toward the machines, and the county will have to pay the remaining $2.2 million.
The board first thought about stretching the payments out over 10 years for the major expense, but County Administrator Scott Miller said he would look into financing it with manuscript debt with the help of Medina County Treasurer John Burke. Manuscript debt can be outstanding indefinitely as long as the principal on the debt is being retired every five years, according to the state auditor.
Board of Elections officials met with commissioners Tuesday after the regular meeting at the administration building. They had originally asked for 760 machines to have extras just to be safe.
The Ohio secretary of state wants all 88 counties to upgrade voting equipment before the November 2020 presidential election.
“There is always a high turnout for the presidential election,” Medina County Elections Administrator Heather McDermott said.
The board recently received about 90 voting units, printers and readers from the Lorain County Board of Elections.
“We are going to cannibalize them and use them for parts,” McDermott said.
The parts will be used on the current 14-year-old Dominion voting machines and will be used in the primary election in May before being retired. The board was forced to get new equipment when it could no longer find parts for the voting machines.
Board of Elections Director Carol Lawler said the board will save money by using the legs off the old machines on the new ES&S machines. By doing that, they could save as much as $200,000.
The reason they picked the Hybrid 2 machines was the price. McDermott said not only were they the cheapest of the five machines they vetted, but they were everyone’s first choice.
Pam Miller, president of the board, said they had hoped to make a decision on the voting machines in January. That way they’d have plenty of time to test the equipment and train the staff and poll workers.
“We need time to get things in place for a smooth November,” she said.