After over a year of research, meetings with vendors, and hardware installation related to the county's new voting machines, Clerk Mary Brown and other officials can take comfort knowing one thing: Clay County won't ever have to go through a Florida-style election fiasco.
In fact, all the hard work paid off even more yesterday when Secretary of State Todd Rokita presented Brown with a refund check for $73,416 -- approximately a quarter of the cost of the new voting machines.
"Clay County election reform is one of the state's bright spots," Rokita said in a brief, informal speech in the Clerk's Office yesterday. A handful of county officials came by to talk to Rokita and thank Brown for her work with the new system.
"It's not all on me," Brown said. "Everyone had a part in this."
The end result, 72 new computerized voting machines, can be viewed by county voters during May's presidential primaries. The machines, which cost just under $300,000, will be easier to use and less prone to errors.
"Mary and the auditor's office worked hard to make this as physically conservative as possible," County Commissioners President David Parr said.
Brown said that more refund money from the government is possible, but not certain.
"I heard that the federal funding was coming through, and we'd be in line for that, but it's not verified."
She said that the installation hasn't been hard to work around so far, but several more machines need to be implemented before the process is complete. MicroVote, the company supplying the new system, also handles installation.
The machines themselves are easily used, implementing a simple button-pressing system that even the least tech-savvy should be able to understand. A test machine, which is open for display to the public, is set up in the Clerk's Office. Commissioner Daryl Andrews, trying the machine out with the assistance of Brown, said that it was "pretty simple".