Washington County Election Commission Gets New Voting Machines

WASHINGTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- Voters in Washington County will encounter new voting machines when they head to the polls for annual school elections on Sept. 20.

The Washington County Election Commission purchased 288 new ExpressVote voting machines to replace the current models, which were first introduced in 2006.

Election workers will spend most of September and October getting accustomed to the new equipment.

Tuesday's (Aug. 9) special elections in Fayetteville and West Fork will be the last time the current machines will be used before heading to other counties in Arkansas or back to the manufacturer.

"We keep saying, 'This is the last time you'll use the that PEB (Personal Electronic Ballot). This is the last time that we're going to use the iVotronics,'" said Jennifer Price, coordinator for the Washington County Election Commission.  "So yes, this will be the last election for the old voting equipment. The school election, you'll see the brand new setup that we have."

Price said the old machines are equivalent to an outdated flip phone, with the newer models capable of getting software upgrades, which should give them more longevity.

ExpressVote machines are said to give voters easier directions, along with the option to review their ballots before making submissions and the ability to go back to change their vote.

Something new Washington County voters will have to keep in mind is after finishing the voting portion, a paper ballot will print from their voting machine. That ballot must then be inserted, by the voter, into a nearby electronic vote counting machine.

"They're easier for us to program. They're easier for us to get election results at the end of the evening and just the whole setup is entirely different for us," Price said. "They're new, but so far we love what we've seen."

The new voting equipment cost about $1.6 million of which $1.2 million came from the state and remaining $420,000 came from the county.