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Bill to help reimburse for voting machines

Thursday, February 21, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana State Senate voted 44-1 Tuesday in favor of legislation that would reimburse Parke County for the purchase of voting systems purchased to replace unusable voting machines.

State Senator Tim Skinner (D-Terre Haute), a sponsor of House Bill 1071, said Parke County would receive a portion of Federal funds received under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and a matching state appropriation.

"Parke County has done the right thing, they followed the law, and now they have done what was needed to ensure that voters can cast their ballots in the May primaries," Skinner said. "I am glad that we found the federal and state dollars to reimburse the county for these unintended expenses."

In 2005, the General Assembly passed legislation requiring each county to purchase voting systems from one of four companies that complied with the Federal HAVA. Four counties in the state, including Parke, purchased systems from Voting Technologies International (VTI), one of the four eligible companies.

VTI's systems were used in the 2006 election, but the company went bankrupt shortly after.

Since technical support and servers for the current systems are no longer available, the counties are forced to replace the system.

House Bill 1071 was also amended by the Senate to allow an expansion of the state's voting centers, a pilot program that began in 2006. The bill would allow Wayne and Tippecanoe counties, which served as vote center pilot counties in 2007, to permanently establish a voting center program for all elections in those counties.

An additional pilot county could also be designated by the Secretary of State this spring.

A vote center is a polling place where any voter in the county may go to vote.

The amended language would also require Indiana counties to establish an alternative polling place for use when a traditional polling place does not open within one hour of the designated time.

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