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Randolph Commission seeking grant to buy new voting machines

The Inter-Mountain photo by Brad Johnson Randolph County Commissioner Mark Scott, left, and Commission President David Kesling oversee Thursday’s meeting while social distancing from each other to comply with COVID-19 pandemic regulations.

ELKINS — The Randolph County Commission voted unanimously Thursday to authorize a grant application seeking funds to help buy new voting machines for the county.

The county’s current voting machines have been in use since 2006. If the grant, through the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office, comes through for Randolph County, the new machines will not be ready to be used in November’s general election.

“The first these new machines could be used would be two years from now,” County Clerk Brenda Wiseman said during Thursday’s County Commission meeting. She added the machines are “more updated, faster, better” then the county’s current ones.

Commissioner Mark Scott said it was important to utilize any grant money to replace the machines now, before they become “obsolete” and must be replaced when no financial assistance is available.

County officials said the grant would pay up to 50% of the equipment costs of the new voting machines, and up to 85% of the costs of the poll books that will come with the machines.

The total cost to replace the machines will come to $548,496, which will include the machines, the books and the first year of maintenance, officials said Thursday.

The grant, if approved, would provide $302,000 toward the total cost, Wiseman said.

“I’m still happy with (the county’s current voting machines), but it’s getting to the point all the other counties are getting the new equipment,” Wiseman said. “We need to get up to date with everyone else getting the new equipment around us. The Secretary of State’s Office wants everyone to get the new equipment.”

“They’re 14 years old,” Commission President David Kesling said. “Just think how much technology changes in 14 years.”

Wiseman said the new machines will be larger than the current ones, and the county will need to find increased storage space for them.

Commissioner Chris See made the motion to approve signing the grant application, which passed unanimously.

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