Jefferson County leaders consider replacing embattled election machines

In November, Jefferson County Clerk Carolyn Guidry told 12News that the problems plaguing the elections stemmed from issues with the ES&S electronic voting machines.

She's not been a fan of those machines ever since commissioners first voted to purchase them.

That's why on Monday, she will hold a workshop in which commissioners will consider an alternative in hopes of preventing future fiascos.

Becky Duhon is a Jefferson County voter who lost faith in the county's voting process after the November elections.

Duhon said, "I thought it was going to be fair and done properly, but it wasn't, so I don't think we should have a recount every year.  I just think they need to get the proper working machines that way it would be fair for everybody, no matter Republicans, Democrats, or whatever."

And she's not alone in feeling that way.  Commissioner Michael Sinegal said, "I got a lot of complaints, first it started out in Mid-County, then it started in the sub-courthouse."

That's why Sinegal is happy Guidry has set up a workshop to discuss replacing the current ES&S system with machines from Hart InterCivic, hoping Jefferson County can get something it's been lacking in elections for several years now.

He said, "Accountability where machines are not breaking down, the citizens go in the, they're user friendly, if we can get that accomplished the cost will not be priority."

Cost is a priority for Jefferson County voter Kristopher Meleton, he finds the current system fine, and doesn't think it's worth it spending more on a replacement.

Meleton said, "I did feel confident in my vote, but with every new changes, you're going to have some problems, it's never going to be perfect."

But Commissioner Sinegal believes restoring the public's trust is crucial.  He said, "The cost of integrity is priceless, yes, the cost is a concern, but we need to make sure the integrity of our elections is in place."

Guidry said if commissioners act quickly, a new system could be in place by January.  She says it would be a lease-purchase agreement costing the county $387,000 a year for three years with the first payment not due until December of 2015.

Guidry says there are also some good buyback incentives if Hart InterCivic comes up with a newer model during the term of the contract.


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