By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Voting machines required for sight-impaired voters will provide more access for all voters and keep lines moving smoothly Nov. 7, said Thomas McCabe, Mahoning County Board of Elections director.
McCabe said voter turnout is expected to be heavy Nov. 7 because of the Ohio gubernatorial election. In the longest lines in the county during the November 2004 presidential election, voters waited 90 minutes to vote, he said.
McCabe said the voting machines required by the Americans With Disabilities Act, so sight-impaired voters can cast ballots without assistance, can also be used by sighted voters.
This gives the county one of the highest voter-to-machine ratios in the state, he noted.
McCabe said the required ratio for voting machines is one per every 175 voters, and the county will have one for about every 155 voters for the Nov. 7 general election.
He said the ADA requirement for voting machines for the sight-impaired is one per polling location, and the county will provide one per precinct.
Mahoning County commissioners recently approved borrowing up to $590,000 to pay for voting equipment, much of it mandated by state or federal law.
Joyce Kale-Pesta, Mahoning elections deputy director, has said about $192,000 is needed for secure voting machine storage containers required by law for voting machines by this year's general election.
She said another $55,000 is needed because state law requires elections boards to mail postcards to registered voters with information about the Nov. 7 election, including the proper voting location for their registration and a new mandate that proper identification is needed to vote.
The county owed $601,915 to Election Systems & amp; Software for 312 additional voting machines in September 2004 as well as maintenance agreements.
The elections board sent $74,000 in June for its 2005 maintenance agreements, and $77,000 in July for this year's maintenance bill, Kale-Pesta said.