New paper ballots 

Published 10:18 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Polk to spend $94K on optical scanners 


COLUMBUS—Polk County is preparing to comply with a new state law to go to paper ballots for voting by approving a purchase contract for $94,265 for 15 scanners and equipment.  

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The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday and unanimously approved the purchase of the DS-200 optical scanners and related equipment from ES&S.  

The purchase is part of the county’s budget, with commissioners allotting $171,000 total for new equipment. This is the first phase of purchases to comply with North Carolina law. The county will later purchase American Disabilities Act compliant machines because there are currently no models available.  

“The remaining capital outlay will be used to purchase the ADA machines when they are certified and available, as well as the supporting infrastructure for handling and transporting paper ballots and upgrading electronic equipment,” Polk County Elections Director Cliff Marr said in a letter to commissioners.  

Marr also said the process of selecting and purchasing a new voting system is not subject to the normal bidding rules, but is controlled by a certification and purchasing process defined by North Carolina election law.  

“The Polk County Board of Elections has followed all relevant legal processes, has held the appropriate public demonstrations and has secured the North Carolina State Board of Elections’ approval for the purchase of the DS-200 optical scanners,” Marr said.  

Polk County Manager Marche Pittman said essentially the county was allowed only one vendor to choose from, but the numbers were lower than the county thought it would be spending. Pittman also said the board of elections did a great job in getting what they needed.  

The money for the new voting system was included in the county’s 2019-2020 fiscal year budget, with the new budget year beginning on July 1.