City, county officials debate purchasing new voting machines

The cost for Union County to purchase 40 new electronic machines has been estimated at $200,000.

By Tia Lyons
Eldorado News Times

City officials have said they are reluctant to enter a debate about whether Union County should participate in a statewide cost-sharing program to purchase new voting machines for the 2018 elections.

Several county officials hashed out the matter during a regular council meeting on Sept. 7 after Union County Quorum Court member Dean Storey asked the council to encourage the quorum court to purchase new electronic voting machines.

While council members said they would support any decision the quorum court made in the matter, they said they did not feel it was appropriate to voice opinions beforehand.

“I don’t know if we need to put our two cents in until the quorum court decides, and it seems like y’all are more than capable,” Mayor Frank Hash said.

“We don’t want it to seem like you’re pressured to vote based on what we say,” Hash said.

Storey explained that Secretary of State Mark Martin is offering a total of $6 million — $5 million from the state government and $1 million from Martin’s office — to assist counties in replacing voting machine with new electronic equipment.

“It’s to protect the sanctity and security of voting and an effort by the state to replace antiquated voting machines,” Storey said.

The county’s existing voting machines supplied by Harp Enterprises are obsolete and are used by only two counties in Arkansas, Union and Ouachita.

“Now, parts are only available from outside services, not the normal manufacturer,” Storey said.

To participate in the cost-sharing program, Storey said counties would have to sign up on a list, and if selected, would have to split costs 50/50 with the state. Read more.

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