County pursues grant to buy 75 new voting machines

by Kate Shunney

The Morgan County Clerk’s office is applying for a federal grant to buy 75 new voting machines for county elections.

Last Tuesday, September 27, the Morgan County Commission approved a resolution allowing Clerk Kim Nickles to make the application for funds from the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) security sub-grant pool of money.

Commission President Sean Forney said he was told of the grant opportunity by the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office as they discussed recent efforts to retrieve and count ballots from the May primary election.

On Tuesday, commissioners agreed to commit $217,037 from county carryover funds to act as a 50% match to the HAVA funds if the grant is approved.

A list of equipment needed to update all of the county’s voting machines submitted to the county by ES&S, their current election machine vendor, totaled $434,074. That proposal includes 75 new electronic touch-screen ExpressVote machines, cases for each machine, polling place scanners and tabulators, installation services plus additional memory drives.

Nickles told commissioners that Morgan County’s voting machines were acquired in 2006 but were not new. She believes the machines are from 2002, making the current models 20 years old.

“I think it’s apparent the machines are old, there are better models out there that will assist us with the election process, and maybe make it more streamlined,” said Commissioner Forney.

He said state election officials told him the updated machines would make “a world of difference” when it comes time for election results to be tallied.

Commissioners voted unanimously to support the grant resolution.

Morgan County Clerk’s office is seeking a federal voting grant to buy new 75 ExpressVote machines for the county.