Morgan County updating voting machines to include printer – Reporter-Times

Steve Schamo, left, from Micro Vote, and Morgan County Clerk Tammy Parker check out what the new machines will look like.

Due to changes in federal and state law, beginning in 2024, Morgan County voters will see a change in voting machines.

Members of the county’s election board, county administrator Josh Messmer, and Steve Schamo from Micro Vote, met Friday afternoon to discuss what the changes will mean for the county.

Voters are used to the voting machines being in small blue cases. Starting in 2024, the machines will be in large black cases. And they will have an “extra” piece, a printer.

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According to Schamo, the printer will only record votes for candidates, not who voted for which candidate. “There are no identification numbers on the printed record to tell who voted for who,” he said.

He said the voter will not receive a printed record of their vote. “It stops vote selling,” he said. He said in the past, people could take a voting receipt to a person and be paid for their vote. The printer will allow a review of the ballots cast on that particular machine. He said if the need does arise, the votes can be manually tabulated.

The mechanics of the election will change some.

Schamo said the electronic “heart” of the current voting machines will be installed in the new cases and connected to the printer. He said the state is paying for the updates, which cost around $2,200 per case and printer. The county has around 106 voting machines that will have to be changed.

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Schamo said the machines are not connected to the internet in any way. “They do not have the ability to connect to the net,” he said.

The only item that is connected to the internet is the polling books which keep track of who voted. Those books are not attached to the machines, he said.

Schamo said the current machines have their legs inside the case and the new cases will have the legs on the outside of the machine. That, he said, will allow the cases to be sealed at the election office, delivered to the vote center, and set up without having to open the case.

A down side is the weight and size of the new case. It will weigh around 50 pounds compared to the current 40 pounds for the existing cases. The new cases are larger than the current cases at 42 inches, by 12 inches, by 24 inches in size.

A close up look at Morgan County's new voting machines. The "heart" of the machine, on the left, is the same unit from the existing machines. The new part is the printer on the right side of the unit.

That poses a storage problem for the machines, which must be kept in a secure location.

There also is a problem with delivery of the machines. The old units could be carried in a car. The new machines, due to their size and weight, will have to be delivered and picked up by a van or small truck.

Scharmo said the printed report would only be used if a question rose about the votes cast.

According to state law, the machines must be in use by the 2024 general election.

Board members felt they would like to have the machines in place and operating by the 2023 general election. That election involves officials in cities and towns.

Messmer said the county would work on finding a secure location to store the machines.

The next election board meeting is Sept. 30 at 10 a.m. when the board will conduct a public test of the voting machines.

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