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County approves purchase of voting equipment

The Beaufort County Commissioners on Monday approved the Board of Elections’ recommendation to purchase a new voting equipment system manufactured by Election Systems and Software.

The system’s quoted price is $281,850. In the fiscal year 2017-18, The county established a capital reserve fund to pay for new equipment, with annual installments of $55,000. Supporting documents show that $275,000 is available to help cover the purchase of the voting equipment in 2021-22. The Board of Elections also needs to purchase an election management system computer, which carries a $3,081 price tag, as well two ballot-on-demand systems that carry a combined cost of $13,785. The Board of Elections is seeking grant funding to cover the rest of the bill.

The county’s current voting equipment includes M100 precinct tabulators and AutoMark machines, all of which were manufactured by Election Systems and Software. The current equipment has been in use since 2006 and has exceeded its life expectancy.

“We want to give you a special thanks,” Board of Elections Chairman Tom Payne told the Beaufort County Commissioners on Monday, “because you as the county commissioners realized about five years ago that this thing was going to come, and there would be a very big burden on the taxpayers to buy all new election equipment at one time.”

As part of the process of seeking new equipment, the board of elections previously held a simulated election to see the new equipment in action.