Board of Elections seeks new voting equipment

Published 7:02 pm Monday, April 19, 2021

The Beaufort County Board of Elections is evaluating potential replacements for its current voting equipment system, which has been in use since 2006 and has exceeded its life expectancy, according to elections director Kellie Harris Hopkins.

The current system has worked well and didn’t pose any issues during the most recent election cycle, Hopkins said. The equipment’s age is the main reason why the elections board is seeking a replacement.

The process of obtaining a new system includes five main steps, and the first one will begin this week. On Wednesday at 5 p.m., the Board of Elections will witness a demonstration of the Hart InterCivic voting system. On Tuesday, April 27, at 5 p.m., the Board will see a demonstration of Elections System and Software’s equipment. The demonstrations will be held at 1308 Highland Drive, Suite 104, in Washington. Both demonstrations are open to the public.

In seeking a new voting equipment system, boards of elections are legally required to see demonstrations of two voting systems, and one of them must be a certified voting system that isn’t currently used by the county.

No decisions will be made during those two events.

“This is just us educating ourselves on what’s available to us,” Hopkins said.

At its next meeting following the demonstrations, the Board of Elections will decide which system it wants to move forward with. The Board will present its choice in a preliminary recommendation to the Beaufort County Commissioners.

The Board of Elections will then need to conduct a simulated election using the new equipment. After that simulated election, the Board will again will decide whether it wants to move forward with that system. Once the system is decided upon, the Board will need to seek permission from the State Board of Elections to replace its current system, and it will also need to make a final recommendation to the county commissioners.

“The commissioners can approve or deny the request,” Hopkins said. “They can deny it, but they don’t get to pick (a system). The Board of Elections will pick and then give it to the county commissioners.”

Hopkins said the commissioners have been invited to the upcoming equipment demonstrations.