Voting machines to come with spares

County residents will get their first look at the new machines in May.
MERCER, Pa. -- Mercer County finalized a contract for its new voting machine system Thursday.
The contract includes more equipment than originally announced as well as more on-site support.
Mercer County commissioners said the final purchase price will be $985,015 for 185 standard machines and 105 handicapped accessible machines. Although the price announced in January was $980,000, the county decreased the number of standard machines they will order by five, replacing them with five of the more expensive handicapped-accessible machines in the final contract, according to Dr. Tom Rookey, Director of Registration and Elections.
The specially equipped machines cost $295 more apiece than the standard ones. One handicapped-accessible unit must be in each of the county's 100 precincts, and five will be kept as backup. In addition, the county is buying two supervisor terminals instead of the standard one, to serve as a backup in case one goes down.
The final contract also includes ballot coding and on-site support for four elections instead of the standard one.
For the disabled
Rookey said the federally required handicapped-accessible machines will have an audio capability so visually impaired voters can cast a secret ballot. Until now, those voters had to rely on a poll worker to read the ballot aloud and mark it for them. The units also have a zoom capability to make the print size larger and are designed to accommodate a wheelchair easily.
Commissioners had announced Jan. 31 that they would purchase the Votronic Touch Screen Voting system, made by Election Systems & amp; Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb. The purchase of 290 units is 40 more units than the county purchased for the county's 100 precincts the last time they bought machines.
Delivery of all the new units is guaranteed by April 15, with the contract imposing financial penalties if this date is not met.
County residents will get their first look at the new machines at the Hermitage VFW Home Show on March 11 and 12, Rookey said.
Commissioners hired Jeannette McGranahan of Greenville as clerical assistant for the district attorney's office at $11.42 an hour and Tabitha Thompson of Kossuth as a caseworker for Children and Youth Services at $13.61 an hour.
They also named Kathleen Orr of Grove City to a three-year term on the Mercer County Commission for Women.

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