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HANFORD — The Kings County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday morning and discussed the possibility of getting new county voting machines for elections.

The discussion lasted around two hours and included demonstrations from both companies that are vying for the county’s business: Dominion Voting Systems and Election Systems & Software (ES&S).

The county currently has machines from Dominion Voting Systems.

Kings County Assessor Kristi Lee originally presented to the board on July 18 with a proposal from ES&S that she supported, but the board made the decision to wait to vote until a demonstration of both systems was presented to them.

Lee said she and elections staff had been reviewing different systems to replace the current 16-year-old Dominion systems, which she said are either not working or in disrepair. She said the Dominion servers actually failed during the 2016 election and temporary solutions had to be made to get through the night.

Among other issues, Lee said the current Dominion systems are heavy, complicated, difficult to set up and not user-friendly.

“Although the county is not in a position to purchase new equipment during the [2017-2018] fiscal year due to budget cuts, the risk of continuing with the old equipment is of significant concern,” Lee told the board, adding the proposal by ES&S would not cause the county to incur any additional costs besides what is already budgeted.

Lee even got some of the elections staff members to give their opinions on the two systems, which were not favorable to the current systems from Dominion. Old, outdated, bulky, easily-jammed and time consuming were a few of the complaints given by the elections staff about the current machines.

Representatives from ES&S went first and demonstrated both a voting machine and ballot scanner and tabulator. Next, Dominion representatives demonstrated their voting system, including a tabulator and ballot-marking device.

The supervisors watched both demonstrations and asked questions when they had them. Lee made it clear to the board that she was dissatisfied with the Dominion machines and services, and wanted to change to the ES&S machines.

Supervisor Joe Neves made a motion to table the issue for the next meeting in order for the board to do more research and get some input from the information technology department at the county. Supervisor Doug Verboon seconded the motion.

Supervisor Richard Valle said he thought the board should make the decision that day because he trusted Lee as the elected registrar of voters to dictate what machines were best for the county.

Verboon said he respected Lee as the registrar of voters, but said he needed more time to weigh the pros and cons of both the ES&S and Dominion systems.

In the end, the board voted 4-1, with Valle being the only “no” vote, in favor of bringing the issue back in a few weeks for an official decision on which voting system the county will use going forward.

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News Reporter

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