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New election machines coming

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones told the county commission she is setting up a demonstration of new voting equipment with two state-approved vendors as she hopes to have a new system in place in time for the 2014 elections.

The discussion of the new voting machines came up during the commission's consideration of a grant request for voter education activities at Tuesday's regular meeting. The commission unanimously OK'd the request for the 85/15 matching grant. The county's portion will be $981.42 and the state will pay $6,542.80.

Jones said the grant is used to pay for items like the sample ballots mailed to voters before the elections. “I think this is a good deal,” Jones said. She said the money was basically a reimbursement for the sample ballots mailed in the 2012 primary and general elections. 

Jones said while Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has proclaimed the 2012 general election was fair, like any system, the voting procedures can be improved upon. 

“I am looking at buying new voting equipment this year,” Jones said. On April 26 from 10 a.m. to noon, she has invited two of the three certified vendors to demonstrate their equipment at her office.

“The reason for needing this is the state says I have to have it by 2016,” Jone said. 

The last thing anyone wants to do is be using equipment during the presidential election which usually has heavier turnout. 

The optical scanner equipment the county is using is 12 years old, and the equipment starts experiencing breakdowns and problems after six to seven years of use, Jones said. “The counties that had problems in the last election, they were using the same equipment,” she said. 

By purchasing new equipment, “We can be the limelight of Florida,” she said. 

The new equipment is expected to cost about $200,000 and will be paid for over a six-year period, Jones told the commission.