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Polling may go paperless

Published: Tue, November 19, 2013 @ 12:05 a.m.

mahoning county

By Peter H. Milliken



The Mahoning County Board of Elections and data processing center and the remainder of the auditor’s office are seeking budget increases from the county’s general fund in 2014.

The board of elections seeks to go from its off-year budget of slightly more than $1.8 million this year to $2.1 million for 2014, when there will be congressional, state legislative, gubernatorial and county elections.

Unlike 2013, the board will incur the expense of opening all the county’s precincts for the primary election, said Joyce Kale-Pesta, elections director.

Next year also brings added expenses for printing and mailing, and likely for technology upgrades, she said at a Monday budget hearing with commissioners.

If the elections board gives its approval, all the county’s polling places will have electronic poll books listing voters in next year’s primary and general elections, making polling places paperless and expediting voting, she said.

The electronic poll books would be leased from ES&S, an Omaha, Neb.-based company, for $80,000 to $90,000 next year, she said.

“We’ve gotten burned on technology changing and us having old equipment,” Kale-Pesta said.

Carol Rimedio-Righetti, chairwoman of the county commissioners and a former elections worker, said the technology should be leased because it rapidly becomes obsolete, and the county doesn’t want to buy and own equipment with a short lifespan.

“You have to lease it because it’s too costly. It’s out of date in two or three years,” she said.

“We need technology. ... But, of course, we’re still at a flat budget,” said Audrey Tillis, county budget director.

Because it will be reducing the number of precincts from 273 to 220 next year, the elections board must mail two notices to voters telling them of the changes of general-election voting locations stemming from precinct mergers, Kale-Pesta added.

To meet the need for technology upgrades, the data processing department, which is a part of the auditor’s office, is seeking a budget increase from $1.1 million this year to $1.2 million next year.

For the remainder of his office, county Auditor Michael V. Sciortino is seeking a slight increase from $1,000,371 to $1,015,135 from the general fund.

The commissioners must pare down nearly $60.5 million in departmental budget requests to about $50.2 million in general-fund revenue next year.

The $50.2 million in general-fund revenue estimated by the county budget commission for 2014 is close to the commissioners’ appropriation for this year, which rounds off to $50.3 million.


1questionreality(728 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

All this technology and guess what?...We still have to DRIVE to the county’s polling places.

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2auntiem4cabs(115 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Back in the day... 'pre technology' we had the lever. Now we have a sheet of paper. Mahoning County, why do we always have to step backwards? I so wish we could move forward and be modern and have bigger dreams... People TRAVEL to Pittsburgh and Cleveland for excitement. Heck, we can't even bring a train around town, let alone move forward to technology in our polls.

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3iBuck(231 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

And before levers and cards, there were big, poster-sized ballots, that you marked with scannable markers, and before those, you marked them with an X, and before those you could write in whatever names you wished onto any scrap of paper that was handy and put it into the ballot box.

I recall lugging those huge canvas and leather (oops, those can't be PC, can they?) bags and the heavy wooden and metal poles for the voting booths.

But it's so much easier to hack electronic poll books, to disable the opponents' faithful from voting, and allow one's allies to vote multiple times. That's one of the earliest big electronic voting scams I've run across. And when the communications go out, you can't get the official data feed from the county office... or maybe the data feed is intercepted and a phony stream of data substituted. Printed books, while still subject to scamming, are much more secure; at the very least, you can require multiple persons (from opposing parties) to retain custody.

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