Starting with next year’s statewide elections, voters in Union County will again be using paper ballots.
The Union County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously at its Monday, Dec. 5, meeting to spend $204,167 for the new paper ballot system. The supplier will be Election Systems and Software, LLC, (ES&S) an Omaha, Nebraska company.
During this year’s session, the Mississippi state legislature passed Senate Bill 2879 and the governor signed it into law. The new law provides that, by January 1, 2024, every election in the state “must produce voter-verifiable paper ballots.” The law did provide a “grant program” by which counties could receive a substantial part of the necessary money for purchasing new equipment to scan and store the paper ballots. A strict requirement of the grant program is that the equipment must not in any way be able to transmit information electronically to another device.
Senate Bill 2879 says, “To be eligible for purchase under this grant program, any voting machine, voting device, precinct ballot scanner, ballot marking device or vote tabulating device shall ‘not have the capability of wireless remote connections.”
Union County Circuit Clerk Phyllis Stanford, like most state election officials, has been studying the new voting laws and equipment requirements for several months. She told the board ES&S is a reliable company, the one the county has used for several decades as supplier of its voting equipment and software.
Circuit Clerk Stanford said the state grant to Union County for purchase of the new required equipment would be $98,807.50. The county will be eligible for another grant from the Secretary of State for $46,000. The remainder of the purchase price would be paid from funds already on hand and budgeted for that purpose. Thus, no money from the county general fund will be needed for the $204,167 purchase.
With the new voting system, voters will complete a paper ballot, which will then be scanned and stored for purposes of verification. The DS200 Ballot Scanner system is a portable electronic voting system that uses an optical scanner to read marked paper ballots and tally the results. This system allows for paper ballots to be immediately tabulated at your polling site.
In other business Monday, the county board received bids for road maintenance materials that will be needed during 2023. The bids were all taken under advisement until the road manager and others can determine which bids are in the best interest of the county.
The next meeting of the Union County Board of supervisors will bet at 10 a.m., Monday December 19.
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