Decision Looms on Voting Upgrades

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

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The deadline for Mississippi counties to decide whether or not to accept the state's offer for 129 free touch voting machines or upgrade the present paper ballot counting system is Aug. 19.

Lauderdale County would need an additional 31 machines to complete the system, which would cost a total of $100,000 to $105,000.

To upgrade the present system to the state standard would cost $272,000.

Election commission chairman Ann Watts met with a committee of two supervisors, Ray Boswell and Jimmie Smith, to discuss the new machines.

Some groups have expressed concern about whether the votes can be verified. Watts said a tape within the machine records the votes and an image can be printed from the tape.

Watts also tried to explain why the state has decided to buy from only one manufacturer.

"Buying in bulk is saving the counties. If the counties just went out on their own and bought them, (it) would be a larger amount," said Watts.

"But what I'm saying is, if Eric Clark is going to give Lauderdale County X amount of dollars for one machine, why wouldn't he give us X amount of dollars for the other and let Lauderdale County spend it as they wished?" asked District 5 County Supervisor Ray Boswell.

Watts said the uniform system throughout the state has its advantages.

"If you move from Lauderdale County to DeSoto, you will be voting the same identical way. In other words, wherever you move in the state of Mississippi, you would know how to vote on that voting device which would be a plus," Watts said. "You know, there's some pros and there's some cons."

Watts and Boswell will appear on WTOK's public affairs program, On the Record, Sunday at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the voting machines.


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