Purchase of new voting equipment will be delayed, Manatee elections chief says

skennedy@bradenton.comApril 10, 2014 

Bennett

TOMPKINS-CONDIE

MANATEE -- A purchase of high-tech digital voting equipment will be delayed until after the November election, an official said Wednesday.

"We were concerned we would not have the equipment in time to train for a major election," said Mike Bennett, Manatee County supervisor of elections.

Over the past few weeks, discussions have been continuing with an Omaha, Neb., company that manufactures digital high-speed scanners and specialized equipment designed to accommodate the handicapped, but those negotiations have ended for now, he said.

"We can do with what we've got," explained Bennett.

The delay in purchasing new equipment would help to "make sure Manatee will have an election I'm comfortable with," Bennett added.

Manatee County residents will be able to cast their ballots early at more sites than the single one provided during the last major election, Bennett said.

The county plans either four or five early voting sites for those who prefer to vote in advance of Election Day, Bennett said.

"I think that's probably a wise decision, considering the expense of the equipment, it gives them more time to train," said County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino, when told of Bennett's decision.

"It's already mid-April, and the primary is not that far away, we already have the re-shuffling of the districts that's going to be an adjustment, I don't think you need too many adjustments at one time," she said.

County officials have been negotiating with the Omaha firm of Election Systems & Software, one of two companies that submitted written bids on new equipment for the county.

The other firm was Dominion Voting Systems of Denver.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.

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