County approves new voting machines

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Elections are about to get a little more democratic in Dallas County, thanks to help from 30 new voting machines designed to help disabled voters make themselves heard at the polls.

The Dallas County Commission voted unanimously to approve giving Commission Chairman and Probate Judge John Jones the authority to purchase 30 new voting machines to comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) at a special called meeting Tuesday.

According to HAVA, the machines are required to allow disabled voters, primarily visually impaired voters, to vote with relative ease.

The machines will cost the county $6,025 each, for a total of about $180,000.

Election Systems and Software will provide the machines for Dallas County.

ESS currently provides maintenance and support for all of Dallas County’s voting machines.

According to commission officials, the issue must be resolved before the beginning of February, thus the special meeting.

“We have to be committed by Feb. 1, in order to participate in the federal reimbursement,” financial director Nancy Wilson said.

The federal government will reimburse a portion of the cost to the county through the Secretary of State’s office.

There is no guarantee on how much the county will receive in reimbursement.

When informed of the cost at the county’s last regular meeting, Commissioner Roy Moore said half jokingly, that he wouldn’t mind renting to own.

Still, the commission had to approve the issue in order to comply with HAVA.

In other news, Jones also took a little time at yesterday’s meeting to congratulate Moore on the progress he’s made with the Wagon Wheel area water project.

Through a Community Block Development Grant from the Special Black Belt Fund, Moore, along with others, was able to get water piped in to 38 households in Wagon Wheel.

Jones was proud of Moore’s work.

“He’s not going to tell you this,” he said, “but he has really pursued this project. He saw the need for these families to have a good system that provides them with good water.”

Moore said this is the third time he and grant writer Janey Galbraith applied for an ADECA grant. This time, ADECA officials told them about the Special Black Belt Fund.

Through the fund, Moore and Galbraith were able to get $350,000 – with a $35,000 match from county officials – to tie Wagon Wheel in with the North Dallas Water Authorities system.

Moore said that Wagon Wheel residents have been depending on open, shallow wells, many of which are contaminated with bacteria commonly found in sewage. This system will provide them with safe drinking water. Moore said construction would start in the summer.