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Elections office to purchase scanners for absentee ballots

by on January 03, 2020 9:12 AM

BELLEFONTE — To best prepare for the expected high turnout for the upcoming presidential election, the county is going to purchase two high-speed digital scanners to process absentee ballots. The scanners cost a total of $95,975 and represent the last phase of the county’s upgrade to its voting machines due to required elections reforms. The county looks to be reimbursed by the state for 60 percent of the cost of the scanners.

“This has occurred with the election reforms that occurred in Harrisburg. One of the key issues is that the absentee ballots will no longer go to the precincts,” said county Election and Voter Registration Director Joyce McKinley at a Dec. 17 Centre County commissioners meeting.

“No excuse voting” allows any voter to cast an absentee ballot.

The election office cannot begin to process the absentee ballots until 8 on election night, and the high-speed scanner will enable the results to be processed sooner. The county has a three-day window to get the results completed, but McKinley said they do not want it to take that long.

“We would like to have them processed on election night so we can have the unofficial results as close to accurate as possible,” said McKinley. “We will try to get them through and they recommend high-speed printers.”

She said because the absentee ballots will need processed at the precincts, result should come in sooner. Another change is that people can bring absentee ballots to the elections office up until 8 on election night.

Because they are acting now, the county will be eligible to receive a 60 percent reimbursement for the cost of the scanners from the state, totaling $57,585.

“The timing of this, even though it is a cost we need to incur, we are still under the window of the 60 percent reimbursement for election equipment that the state is taking a bond out for,” said board Chairman Michael Pipe. “Even though it is a $100,000 cost, we are going to see $60,000 of that in reimbursements coming back. So it is good to get this done by the end of the year and it will come in handy on Election Day and we will put it to good use.”

 



Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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