Although some of the current machines are failing, county officials are waiting for three possible counting machine vendors to be properly certified before they make a decision, which won’t be for at least another year.
Scott County Administrator Gary Shelton said the county wanted to hold off on making any purchases to ensure the potential vendors are both state and federally certified.
But the county can’t wait too much longer to make a decision, he said.
“We’re running into more and more issues with them,” Shelton said, noting jamming as a main problem.
The new machines should eliminate jams and other problems with the current equipment, he said, making the process smoother and more efficient.
Hennepin County recently spent $4.1 million to replace about 550 counters. Anoka County followed suit, spending $1.5 million for 140 precinct ballot counters and one central counter.
Scott County’s upgrade would require 50 to 55 new machines and likely wouldn’t cost more than $750,000, said Lisa Shadick, Scott County elections supervisor.
Shadick said although the county will need to replace the machines soon and the new equipment will bring the county’s voting processes up to date, there isn’t an immediate need for them.
“We’re confident we’ll be OK this year,” she said.
Scott County residents will rely on the decade-old equipment while voting for county sheriff, attorney, auditor, treasurer and recorder in November, as well as legislative, state and national races. Three cities in the county — Belle Plaine, Elko New Market and New Prague — also have mayoral elections this year.
Meghan Holden is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.