Cuyahoga County will lease voting equipment for $1.5 millionJoe Guillen, Plain Dealer Reporter
Cuyahoga won't be reimbursed, Jones says
Cuyahoga County will lease its new voting equipment for the March 4 presidential primary for $1.5 million, despite disagreement on the deal within county leadership.
The county commissioners on Thursday approved a contract that includes $412,500 to lease - with an option to buy - 15 optical scanners from Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software. The scanners will count paper ballots on election night at a downtown warehouse.
Other costs in the contract include $400,000 for election support services from ES&S and up to $573,000 to print the ballots.
The contract expires in May. The county then must decide on voting equipment for the November presidential election. If it decides to keep the 15 scanners, which will be leased for $27,500 each, the county will receive a $20,000 credit toward the $47,000 purchase price for each machine.
Another voting system the Board of Elections has considered for November - with about 1,200 smaller optical scanners placed at polling locations - would cost up to $12 million, according to projections prepared by the board.
Board of Elections Director Jane Platten isn't looking that far ahead. Executing the March primary is Platten's sole focus, given the board's transition to a new voting system and past Election Day blunders.
"Things have gone well so far," she said of the transition. "But again, it's that unknown factor that can, and will, crop up."
On Thursday, Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones voted against approving the lease because he said the new system isn't more accurate or faster than the $21-million touch-screen system the county was ordered to scrap.
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, told the county to dump its touch-screen machines in December. Her decision followed a study that found problems in all of Ohio's voting equipment.
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