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Smith County one step closer to new voting machines

Smith County commissioners have decided to move forward with the process of buying new voting machines. Those machines would help tally votes faster.

SMITH COUNTY — During the Smith County Commissioner's court on Tuesday, county commissioners decided to move forward with the process of buying new voting equipment.

The equipment would cost the county $1.3 million. Some money has already been set aside from the 2018 budget, and the rest of the funds would come from the 2019 budget.

Karen Nelson, the Smith County Elections Administrator, said the current voting equipment was bought in 2005, but the technology itself is even older.

During Tuesday's Smith County Commissioners court, Nelson gave a presentation showing the advantages of using new machines.

“They call it a hybrid system, it gives the voter the ability to make their section on the screen the it prints out their choices on a ballot card and then the voter is able to take that ballot card and feed it into a precinct scanner and that’s what counts the vote,” said Nelson.

Nelson said the new system would allow votes to be tallied much quicker on election night.

“Right now, it takes about ten minutes per voting machine to do the closure procedures, but with this new voting equipment you will be closing down your machines in two to four minutes," said Nelson. "So, that process should shave off, I would say, at least a couple of hours.”

She went on to say, before Smith County Commissioners make any decisions on the new system, voters will be able to test the new equipment and give some feedback.

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