The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 7, 2010

Grant pays for new ballot-counting machines in Cherokee County

By Roger McKinney

rmckinney@joplinglobe.com

COLUMBUS, Kan. — New ballot-counting machines will be in place for April city elections in Cherokee County, because of a $17,388 federal grant.

County Clerk Crystal Gatewood applied for the Help America Vote Act Endowment Program grant in June. The grant will pay for 12 of the counting machines.

Gatewood said the price of the machines ordinarily is $5,025 each, but because of the availability of new, surplus machines in Crawford County, Cherokee County was able to obtain the machines at a reduced price.

“The vote count will go much faster on election night with these machines,” Gatewood said. She said vote counts on some election nights have gone past 11 p.m., but the new machines should allow officials to have unofficial vote counts earlier.

The seller of the machines, Election Systems and Software, states on its Web site that the machines, upon the closing of the polling place, provide a printout of vote totals, and allow poll workers to transmit results to the central election headquarters.

Gatewood said the number of polling places in the county will be reduced from 23 to 12 during this year’s elections. Voters in 14 rural townships will have new polling places, most of them in towns. Notifications have been mailed to registered voters whose polling places have changed. Advance ballots will be available to those who are unable or unwilling to vote at their designated polling place.

Gatewood said it sometimes is difficult to recruit poll workers for all the polling places, and the poll workers also must be paid. She said that during some elections, many polling places have fewer than 100 voters, and one polling place had just 14 voters in a recent election.

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