Iowa counties are preparing for the fall election by testing new optical scan voting machines, which are required under a new state law. Modern touch-screen machines have been dumped to provide for a paper trail and an easy manual recount if equipment fails.
Deputy Secretary of State Linda Langenberg says almost all of the new equipment has arrived. "The last I heard, there’s about a half-dozen counties that don’t have all of their equipment," Langenberg said. "There’s just a few counties that haven’t received their optical scan machines…those of the 19 that are getting brand new machines."
Seventy-eight counties need at least some new equipment to comply with the law. State and county training on the new equipment is underway. "We provided a systematic ballot test that they have to do to make sure it counts ballots. They need to make sure that every mechanical part of the machine works, that it fits on top of the ballot box," Langenberg said.
Many of the new machines will get a test run in September. Langenberg says some counties will comply with the mandate in time for September schoolboard elections. The paper trail is required by November. A handful of counties anticipated the change, and were leasing their voting machines. That will free up some federal dollars to help cover the 8.5 million dollar upgrade statewide.