By Lon Anderson
In a special meeting on July 23, the Hardy County Commission voted to seek a federal grant to purchase new voting equipment. The matching grant, if awarded, would pay for 50% of the $194,213.50 cost for the new system, according to County Clerk Greg Ely.
Ely explained that this equipment would be a major upgrade over the County’s current voting system, which was purchased in 2005, and is beginning to fail. Last week Commissioners Jay Fansler and David Workman traveled to Romney, which uses the same system they expect to purchase, to check out the equipment and talk with officials there who use it. Based on that visit, they indicated they were very satisfied and ready to move forward.[private]
The grant, which Ely feels confident the County will receive, is through the Help America Vote Act. It reimburses qualified purchases of voting equipment.
The County would have two years to repay its half of the grant. Commission President Harold Michael asked Ely if the County’s first payment could be postponed until the next fiscal year, since the County had not budgeted for the payment this fiscal year. Ely said that would work.
The purchase includes 31 voting machines (ballot marking devices), one tabulator for early voting, and one tabulator for the central counting location, along with software and necessary support services. The County would also receive a $9,450 trade-in allowance for its 15-year-old equipment.
Ely noted that the equipment is approved by the West Virginia State Elections Office and also meets their requirement that every precinct must have handicapped accessible voting equipment. The equipment is secure, able to detect irregularities, and not connected to the internet in any way.
The Commission’s vote to seek the grant was unanimous and they immediately signed the grant application so that it could be submitted that day.[/private]