UPDATE: Lincoln County prepares for elections with new ballot machine

Published: Jun. 20, 2016 at 2:56 PM CDT
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UPDATE: As Lincoln County makes preparations for the general election, it happens to be one of only five counties in the state using a new ballot scanner.

The commissioners approved the about $100,000 purchase earlier this year.

"It's wonderful," Rebecca Rossell, the county clerk and election commissioner, said of the new machine."It counts up to 300 ballots per minute."

Officials spent Tuesday in training on how to use the new machines.

"It's going to be a learning curve for us," Rossell said. "It's going to be great, but it's going to be a little different. I really think it will be a good benefit for the people of Lincoln County because, hopefully, candidates, news media, [and] everybody can get results, quicker and accurately."

With the new machine, voters might notice a few new things about their ballot.

The machine can read folded paper, so the county is sending early voter ballots in a regular envelope. This is different from the past ballots that the county sent in a flat envelope.

Also, voters may be using a pen to fill out the ballot. The machine prefers scanning a ballot completed with a pen over pencil, although it can read both.

"The best thing about this machine is it's hopefully going to be mechanically reliable for us," Rossell said. "The other one was almost 14 years old, so it had got a lot of use and this one is just going to be more reliable. It's probably going to be faster and it's got a lot more features to it."

Rossell says that those interested in the early voting process must provide a signature to get the ballot mailed to their home.

Voters can find the information in person at the courthouse or online.


SEPTEMBER 19, 2016: Lincoln County prepares for the general election in November with a $100,000 purchase.

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners authorized a sales order for a new ballot machine.

"The county has been fortunate, that [during the] last several elections, we haven't had any major gliches, although the machine that we have is getting older," Joe Hewgley, board chairman, said.

The former, 14-year-old machine still accurately counts votes; but, officials say feeding the ballots through the machine can be a problem.

"It had some quirks, if you will....[it was] very, very sensitive to moisture," Hewgley said. "There were several times when it would run well in testing, then we would get to the election itself any maybe have a little bit of problems."

The new machine could help provide results faster.


JUNE 20, 2016: A machine that costs more than $100,000 could help provide faster, accurate elections results in Lincoln County.

With the general election slowing approaching, the Lincoln County Commissioners approved adding the new machine onto the budget for the year in hopes of providing quicker election results and ultimately saving money.

As the demand for early voting ballots increases, the need for a machine that can quickly count those ballots is also growing.

The current, 14-year-old machine still accurately counts votes; but, officials say feeding the ballots through the machine can be a problem.

Currently sending an early ballot costs $1.52, as the ballots must be sent unfolded and in a flat envelope so that the machine can read the paper without any issues.

"Technology has changed," Rebecca Rossell, the Lincoln County clerk and election commissioner, said. "This new machine will also save a lot of postage. Right now, I have to mail out envelopes to early voters and there's more and more every election. It will save a $1.05 per voter because I'll be able to send the ballots in a regular envelope."

The new machine can easily count wrinkled or folded ballots, so Lincoln County can mail the ballot in regular postage.

In one election season, the county could save a total of about $25,000 in postage.

Lincoln County hopes to have the machine by the fall to be used for the general elections.