Franklin going back to paper voting

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, December 16, 2015

At Monday night’s meeting, Franklin City Council voted to update the voting equipment before the 2016 elections. The new equipment almost seems as a setback to some, as it requires voters to mark on paper, but it is in fact an upgrade and perhaps more reliable.

Voter Registrar Jenifer Maynard said the current equipment would not have made it through all the upcoming elections, although that was her initial plan.

The City of Franklin’s electoral board chose a contract with Printelect/Election Systems & Software (ES&S) for the purchase of nine DS200 Precinct Scanners and eight ExpressVote ADA units. This is the same equipment used by Southampton County.

“It’s going to be a whole new system. It’s no longer a touchscreen system, it’s a paper-based voting system. If you remember scan-tron sheets, citizens will be given a sheet of paper when they come in and they will be marking it like a bubble sheet. It will be used on the front and back.”

According to Maynard, the Virginia General Assembly wants the paper trail, which is why they have banned new touchscreen voting equipment from being purchased. They want to be able to take out each piece of paper and count the votes if all else fails.

“The new optical scan machines actually take a digital image of each ballot as well. If something were to happen to the ballot, they would be recorded.”

The net purchase price for this new equipment is $88,809.45 and the company has agreed to let the city pay for it in two installments over the next two years without a penalty of interest.

“We picked the one that we thought we could get the most bang for our buck and the one that would suit the City of Franklin and the citizens of Franklin.”

Maynard also said that they will be have to do some reeducation of voters, but that she is confident this is the best equipment for the city.