Franklin County voters can choose between touch screen machines and paper ballots for May's election.
The Franklin County Commission this week approved a $12 million purchase of new voting equipment that will be used countywide. The state of Ohio, which will own the machines for 10 years, is contributing more than $10 million toward their acquisition. After a decade, the county will own the machines.
Franklin County Board of Elections spokesperson Aaron Sellers says some voters prefer using paper, so they're keeping the option. Meanwhile, the new voting machines are similar to what voters have already been using.
“The new type of equipment we have is basically a screen you will vote on, but it’s a ballot-marking device,” Sellers says.
Unlike previous machines, which were direction-recording devices, the new devices will spit out a paper ballot that voters will self-insert into a ballot counter.
“It’s a hybrid system,” Sellers says. “A lot of people out there want a paper component.”
The new machines will allow users to change the font size or make the color scheme black and white. There is a braille remote pad for users to vote with, as well.
Last year, Ohio lawmakers approved the Voting Equipment Acquisition Program, which set aside $104.5 million to purchase new equipment for the state’s 88 counties.
The Board of Elections plans to set up a voting lab and community outreach sessions for the public to learn about the new equipment.
“We’ll be at libraries throughout the county,” Sellers says. “We’ll go to fairs and festivals and City Council events, whether that be in Columbus or Chamber of Commerce events.”
According to Sellers, around 80 percent of voters will not encounter the new equipment until elections in 2020.