Two companies demonstrated their voting machines Tuesday to the Kosciusko County commissioners.
After the presentations were over, the commissioners unanimously voted MicroVote General Corp., Indianapolis, as their first choice to work with on purchasing new voting equipment. If the county and MicroVote cannot come to an agreement, the commissioners will approach their second choice, Voting Technologies International, Milwaukee, Wis.
Clerk of the Circuit Court Sharon Christner will meet with MicroVote and present cost estimates to the commissioners Dec. 28. The commissioners hope to make their recommendation on the purchase to the county council at the council’s Jan. 13 meeting.
The Help America Vote Act requires that by Jan. 1, 2006, new voting machines must be in place nationwide, with no more punch card or lever systems. If the county follows proper procedure, the federal government will reimburse the county for the purchase of the equipment up to approximately $600,000.
Ron Truex, middle district county commissioner, said the county has looked into new voting machines for the past several months. They narrowed it down to two, MicroVote and Voting Technologies, to make presentations Tuesday so the commissioners could make a recommendation to the county council.
Voting Technologies made their presentation first. It is a relatively new company formed shortly after the 2000 presidential election. Their touch-screen machines are Indiana-certified and work much like a microwave or an ATM, according to Bill Benning, director of sales.
“We do a lot of outreach to help the voters familiarize themselves with voting,” said Benning.
Each voter is given an ID ticket and personal identification number to enter when they vote. The PIN can be used only once. There is a lot of security installed in the computers and the software is similar to the software used by NASA and the military.
Steve Shamo, customer service and sales with MicroVote, began his presentation by saying 26 counties in Indiana used MicroVote prior to the 2000 election and more counties are getting on board. The company’s goal is to provide the lowest cost to the county per voter with the highest voter accuracy.
The MicroVote system unit is five pounds and is not a touch-screen system. Shamo said that over the past 20 years, the company has learned to keep the system as simple as possible.
“It is a durable unit,” he said. “It has no moveable parts whatsoever.”
The key is not to have the voters do anything but make their selections.
A poll worker has to call up the ballot for each and every voter. The units don’t have a hard drive, but are operated on flash card memory.
Nearby counties that use MicroVote include Whitley, Wells, Wabash and Marshall.
Truex said, “There is a difference of cost” between the two companies, but the county may be able to negotiate a lower price on the machines once a company knows the county is serious about purchasing the equipment.
In other business, the county commissioners:
• Approved the purchase of a 2004 vehicle for the county coroner’s office for $17,200.
• Approved two snowplow agreements between the county highway department and Warsaw and Winona Lake.
• Approved the reappointment of Steve Walters to the Nappanee Library Board. His term will expire in 2008 and Walters has served three terms already.
Kosciusko County commissioners are Avis Gunter, southern district; Ron Truex, middle district; and Brad Jackson, northern district. They meet at 9 a.m. in the county courthouse, Warsaw, every other Tuesday.