MANSFIELD -- Richland County commissioners on Thursday morning approved $269,000 in new equipment for the local Board of Elections.
The funds include $36,000 for a new ballot printing system and $233,000 for 150 new electronic pollbooks, according to Jane Zimmerman, deputy director for the Richland County Board of Elections.
The money for the new pollbooks, used by poll workers to verify voters before they cast ballots, was in the board of elections budget for 2021. Funds for the new ballot printing system will come from the county's capital improvement funds, commissioners said.
Zimmerman said the board's current electronic pollbooks, supplied by ES&S in 2015, are aging, outdated and frequently need to be rebooted during usage. She said the cost of maintaining the units, shipping them back for repair and downtime made the purchase of new pollbooks a worthwhile investment.
Comparing the pollbooks to cell phones, Zimmerman said the new models, produced by Tenex Solutions, "are light years ahead of where we are now."
The new "ballot-on-demand" printing system became necessary when the former supplier, also ES&S, pulled its contract in December, claiming its system is not compatible with the county's Dominion voting machines.
In an email to commissioners, Zimmerman said ES&S had tried to cancel the agreement prior to 2020 when the county purchased Dominion voting units, "but the (Ohio) Secretary of State and our board members compelled ES&S to not make such a major change in a Presidential Election year."
In checking with other county election boards, Zimmerman said it appeared ES&S was pulling contracts where its own voting machines were not being used.
Zimmerman said the elections board had selected Runbeck Election Services to supply the new ballot printing services.
In casting his vote for the changes, Commissioner Darrell Banks said, "We appreciate that our voting machines in Richland County work well and that our Dominion machines are not connected to the internet."