Election leaders budget for ’14
by GREG KAYLOR, Banner Staff Writer
Mar 28, 2013 | 901 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bradley County Election Commission met Wednesday and agreed on a budget presentation for an election-heavy year in 2014.

Included is a request for funding for refurbishing or replacing the Mobile Voting Precinct.

Discussion regarding either upgrading present voting machines or replacing them with optical scan machines was also heard.

Commissioners agreed to add $10,000 to the proposed $278,000 budget, to cover the expense of the MVP, which according to one member of the commission is in dire need of repairs.

Commissioner Dana Burgner performed maintenence on the MVP two years ago.

He said during the meeting that decayed wood in the floor was replaced but additional structural repairs needed to be addressed.

The MVP is used during early voting at the BI-LO site in southern Bradley County.

It is mounted on a hydraulic-leveling chassis system which allows access for handicapped-accessible ramps.

Officials with Bradley Central High Schools Building Trades have agreed to either fully rebuild the unit or repair it.

Burgner said additional space is needed so the chassis would have to be engineered and modified to allow for additional square footage to be added.

Officials also discussed the options for voting machines.

“Recently, up until about 18 months ago, the state election commission along with legislators sought to mandate optical scan voting machines,” said election commission member Steve Crump.

“They have since backed off of the mandate and are allowing funds for either upgrading current systems or changeover to the optical scan system.”

Crump explained the optical scan system would cut down on machines used at precincts, but costs would possibly be more due to the paper ballots which are marked by the voter, then scanned.

Booths would be set up at each precinct where the voter would make their choices, then the paper ballot would be counted through the scanner system.

Expense would range from 24 to 27 cents per ballot.

Crump said of the 96 machines currently used and set up at the precincts in Bradley County, each precinct would have only one scanner with the optical scan system, but voting privacy booths would be required.

Approximately 25 scanners would be purchased with the optical scan system.

“We don’t have to rush this decision,” Crump said.

If the commission chooses to change to the optical scan, machines will be purchased with state funding but operations costs such as ballots would have to be budgeted.

Commissioners plan to present their budget with and without the possible change to the optical system.

They also plan to hold a public forum in the future and are making arrangements for demonstrations from the manufacturers of the present system used and the optical scan manufacturer.