Story talks about new voting machines

Published 4:52 pm Wednesday, February 19, 2020

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VALLEY — Voting machines that have been used for a number of years in Chambers County are being phased out this year. Some new ones that are being leased will debut in the March 3 Democratic and Republican Primary Elections. Chambers County Probate Judge Paul Story talked about this at the Monday evening meeting of the Valley Lions Club.

“The old ones are obsolete,” Story said. “They don’t make parts for them anymore.”

The choice came down to purchasing 20 new machines for $145,000 or leasing them for $150 per machine.

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Leasing them, said Story, was clearly a better option.

“It would take 13 years to spend $145,000,” he said. “I think that’s what we need to do. With all the other needs of the county, such as our jail, roads and bridges, we don’t need to be spending that kind of money if we don’t have to.”

The new machines will be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. It’s a touch screen system that will be easier to use, and it will be set up in a manner so the visually impaired can vote.

“We will be AWDA compliant in all our precincts,” Story said. “Someone who is quadriplegic can use it. It will let you go over every aspect of your ballot. There will be someone there to help you with your machine. They won’t cast a vote for you. You will have to do that. Any ballot that’s marked incorrectly will come back to you.”

Incorrectly marked ballots can be for such matters as voting for more than one candidate in a race and so on.

Anyone who is reluctant to use the new machine can use a paper ballot instead.

The voting places will have poll pads. These are tablets that can quickly scan identification such as a driver’s license to determine if someone is eligible to vote.

“I’ve heard some horror stories from (former Probate Judge) Dr. John Crowder of people trying to vote illegally,” Story said.

If runoff races are needed in the party primary, they will take place on March 30. “Crossover voting will not be allowed,” Story said.

In other words, if a voter votes Democrat on March 3, they can’t vote Republican on March 30 and vice versa.

Crossover voting will be permitted in the November general election.

“In November, you can vote a straight ticket or split your vote if you want to do that,” Story said.

There won’t be many local races on March 3. They main race will be for revenue commissioner on the Republican ballot. Incumbent Beth Abney is facing a challenge from Shannon Frailey. There’s also a race for a seat on the Chambers County Board of Education. Long-time incumbent Mary Terry is not seeking re-election in District 5. Jay Siggers and Doug Thomas are vying for that seat on the GOP ballot.

Incumbent Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge does not have Republican opposition and that race will not be on the March ballot. She will have opposition this fall from Casey Chambley, who will be running as an independent.

“Mr. Chambley has gotten the signatures he needs to run as an independent,” Story said. “He has met the requirements to run in November. Mr. [Winford] Ashmore can run if he has enough signatures by 5 p.m. CDT on March 3.”

Chambley and Ashmore initially intended to run in the March 3rd primary but neither met the requirements.

“It’s a race that had to be validated by the state superintendent’s office,” Story explained. “Neither candidate submitted their certification in time.”

Had either run as a Democrat or a Republican they would have had to pay a qualifying fee. There’s no such charge to run as an independent.

“I think that’s going to change,” Story said.