Lubbock County discussing options for purchasing new voting machines

Lubbock County discussing options for purchasing new voting machines
(source: KCBD)
(source: KCBD)

Lubbock County Commissioners are considering the purchase of new voting equipment.

Lubbock County Commissioner Patti Jones says this equipment purchase is something they've anticipated and saved for, but with the costs of new technology, what they have saved up won't cover it all.

Lubbock Elections Administrator Dorothy Kennedy says the original estimate was around $12 million; however, Jones and Kennedy say the county is looking for ways to lower that expense.

Kennedy says it is time for Lubbock to look into purchasing new voting equipment, since the current equipment was purchased in 2005.

"We have been using it for ten years. This technology that we bought in 2005 was based on 1990 technology. The technology is older, we've had the equipment for ten plus years, this will be the eleventh year we've rolled it out," Kennedy said.

She says problems can arise with the outdated technology.

"Especially in elections, you want to make sure you have technology that's secure and transparent - working and accessible for all your voters at all times," she said.

She says they currently have around 850 voting machines, and are looking into purchasing around 1,100 new machines.

Jones says they are waiting on a final cost number from the vendor, which they expect by the end of this month.

But she says there will be no state or federal funding to help like there was ten years ago when the Help America Vote Act went into effect

"On this go around just to replace the equipment, no. There's no help from the state. There's no help from the federal government. This is all on Lubbock County," Jones said.

Jones says they've set aside around $4 million to use solely towards purchasing new voting equipment.

However, she says in order to lower the costs, they are looking into a vendor offering a discount called an Early Adopter Program.

"They're giving a significant discount to buy the equipment early on rather than waiting later this year or maybe into next year. And so we want to take advantage of that discount," Jones said.

Though the County is waiting for a number as to how significant of a discount that will be, Jones says that is why they want to make the purchase this year.

"We've got some money set aside in our fund balance to help with this, because we knew this was coming. But if it's going to be upwards of 12 million. We don't have that much money set aside for it," Jones said.

"Part of that difference is going to be made up in the difference between the current tax rate, and the effective tax rate," she said.

"We would be foolish to not take advantage of the discount that we can get now versus waiting a year and having to pay full price for it," Jones said.

Jones says once they get a final number from the vendor, the balance between that and the $4 million they've reserved will be put into the 2017 budget before the budget is adopted at their first meeting in September.

They will hold two public hearings on Aug. 29 and Sept. 1.

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