State elections officials are testing new electronic vote counting machines that could be used in future elections. A group of county clerks gathered in Madison yesterday to try them out.
The new machines won't change the way voters mark their paper ballots, but the new software should make it easier for clerks to process election results and get them to the media and the public sooner. Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy says the new machines will also make it easier for citizen groups to get results when elections are challenged.
"The data used to be stored on what's called a Prom Pack, which looks like a cigarette pack — very expensive, old technology for data storage — now we'll be able to use thumb drives. We all have a drawer full of those things so when people make public records request to see the data it will be much easier to do."
County clerks like Lori Stottler of Rock County are looking for machines that will replace ones she's been using since the 1990's for which replacement parts are no longer available. "I want to purchase the next brand that's going to take us the furthest out and be that stable workhorse for another 15 years. I don't want to buy another two-year lease on a new machine; that will be a waste of money for the taxpayers."
The GAB will decide whether to approve the new machines at their March meeting and they could show up at the polls by spring elections in 2014.