Election board hears scanner presentation

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Belmont County Board of Election members heard a presentation from Dominion Voting’s Mark Beckstrand during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday about his company’s latest digital optical scanners.

He displayed the Image Cast Evolution and Precinct models, the former a larger device with a digital screen while the smaller Precinct model boasts a monochromatic screen. Both are Americans with Disabilities Act compatible.

Once each vote is cast, both machines scan the ballot and make a permanent, digital copy that is stored on the scanner. Both take up to a 22-inch ballot sheet.

There is a patent on each machine called an audit mark. On each ballot, once deposited and scanned, a mark is put on the ballot by the machine. The same mark is placed in the exact spot on the corresponding digital image. That way the scanned image can be compared to the hard copy in case of any issues that arise.

The Evolution is a larger, stand-alone machine that boasts a ballot box with a lid and can be wheeled to and from polling locations to the election board office.

The Precinct can be hooked up to wheels or placed in a bag and carried by poll workers. It comes with an attachable inkjet printer while the Evolution’s printing capabilities are found within its casing.

Beckstrand also detailed a change in the pricing structure for the machines.

Instead of purchasing outright, Dominion is offering a managed services plan.

“We scope the job, see how many you need, how much training, how many consumables and work up a quote,” Beckstrand said. “We still own the hardware, but this way, it costs less during a six-year period than if you bought the machines outright.”

The election board would pay a yearly contract fee and if, after the contract is up, the scanners are still up-to-date, the contract can be continued. If not, Dominion will provide updated machines.

The difference is that instead of going to the county commissioners and requesting the funds for a large purchase, they instead ask for yearly contract fees which are significantly less and more palatable given the dwindling local government funding coming from the state each year.

The election board also wished to issue a proclamation thanking the Bridgeport Exempted Village School District for the district’s decision to provide the election board usage of its school facilities for upcoming elections.

In order not to distract the students or create additional security issues, the school district is holding an in-service day on election day.

“We want to officially thank Bridgeport High School and their understanding our situation, and we thank them for making the area available for election day so that we can better serve the votes,” Board president Frankie Lee Carnes said. “We deeply appreciate it that they are so accommodating to the election process.”

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