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Funding for new voting machines approved

The Harrison County Council Tuesday, Oct. 13, unanimously approved new voting equipment for the county.
The machines, produced by Hart Intercivic based in Lexington, Ky., and Harp Interprises, were purchased for a reduced price of $227,250 because they were used for one election cycle in Hawaii.
Circuit Court Clerk Sherry Brown said the purchase will save the county as much as $200,000 by not having to purchase new equipment after 2010.
New voting machines became an issue after Election Systems & Software, the company which provided upkeep for the county’s 40 Optech Eagle machines, said technical support no longer will be available for the machines. However, Brown said the company has informed the county it will support the machines for one more year, although parts are not readily available for the nearly obsolete voting devices.
The Harrison County Board of Commissioners approved the request at its first meeting in October. Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes supports the purchasing of the machines because of their handicap accessibility. The machine has many functions to make it easier to vote, including headphones which will read each race for the blind and a sip-and-puff option for paralyzed citizens among others.
With the new machines, voters will be given a code to input on a dial on the voting machine which looks similar to an arcade game structure. Voters then will use the touch-screen device to choose candidates. Or, voters can use optical scan machines with a physical ‘check the box’ ballot, which also were included in the purchase.
Hart representatives said in each election they’ve conducted in Kentucky (well more than half of the state’s counties), the election results were in five to 10 minutes after the final precinct reported.
In May, the county heard a request from another company, Governmental Business Systems, for new voting machines with a total cost of $379,225.
In other matters, Councilwoman Leslie Robertson took the opportunity, during the other county business portion of the meeting, to address the sheriff’s department situation. Last week, Commissioner Terry Miller asked, through a letter, Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick to resign. The embattled sheriff faces sexual assault charges.
‘I’m as frustrated as you are,’ she said. ‘There’s no cover up, no attempt to sweep it under the rug; we have no authority to do anything about it.’
Robertson cited the Indiana code, which labels the sheriff one of nine constitutional officers who can’t be removed by the council.
‘I just wanted to make that clear,’ she said.
The council heard a request of $1,000 for a new laptop for Prosecutor Dennis Byrd. One of the previously purchased laptops was stolen from his office.
Byrd said Indiana State Police Det. Bill Wibbles is investigating the theft. Byrd also said Wibbles was ‘not impressed’ with the video surveillance equipment in the justice center. He said it is difficult to determine whether a person entering the building is a male or female with the quality of video.