Possible new voting equipment in Cerro Gordo County

“Elections are about trust.”

It’s a big purchase, but it’s something Cerro Gordo County Auditor Ken Kline has been seriously considering since summer of 2012 buying new election equipment.

“It’s a major investment; we’re talking in the neighborhood of $300,000 to change the election equipment, that’s not something you do lightly,” explains Kline.

The county’s current voting equipment was purchased about a decade ago and although Kline says they’ve been happy with it, there have been problems that have caused administrative recounts in the past several years.

“Especially jams, and failure of the diverter inside the ballot box that separates the ballots that have the write-in votes.”

That’s why Kline is proposing the county upgrade to software driven voting machines by Unisyn.

“Basically what you’re going to find is that the voters aren’t going to see any difference in the voting process,” says Jay Perbix with Unisyn.

Tuesday Kline and Perbix demonstrated the new machines to those at the Board of Supervisors meeting.

The voter fills out the paper ballot and uses a secrecy sleeve to insert their ballot.

These machines also recognize when a voter mistakenly over votes, meaning they’ve filled out too many ovals.

Besides making things easy for the voters, Kline says these machines will make counting write-in votes simpler for the precinct officials.

“The software images the ballots; it clips off an image of each write in vote and then collects those by office and prints a report. So from the precinct officials stand point, it’s a lot easier,” Kline adds.

Right now 37 Iowa counties are already using these voting systems.

And Kline hopes the county board makes Cerro Gordo number 38.

In the proposal, Unisyn is offering a credit for the county’s current voting machines. But Kline says that offer might not last much longer as the old machines will eventually receive no value.

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