BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's has received more than 900 new voting machines with enhanced security features to replace equipment that's 15 years old, state officials said.
Testing of the new equipment, delivered to a warehouse in Bismarck, began this week before the machines are distributed to the state's 53 counties, according to the Secretary of State's Office.
North Dakota lawmakers, in their 2019 legislative session, budgeted $8.2 million, along with $3 million in federal funds, to replace the old machines. Election officials say the new tabulating equipment has additional security features to ensure accurate and timely reporting of election results.
The new equipment includes 425 precinct tabulators, or ballot scanners, 425 devices for voters with physical difficulty in marking ballots, and 53 central count machines, for processing absentee and mail ballots.
Morton County Auditor Dawn Rhone is looking forward to new election equipment.
"Thankfully we haven't had a lot of problems with ours as some counties have, but it's reassuring that we don't have to worry about the equipment at this point anymore," she told the Bismarck Tribune .
Donnell Preskey, a lobbyist for the North Dakota Association of Counties, surveyed county auditors during the recent legislative session and noted 27 ballot scanners that failed in 16 counties in the 2018 primary and general elections.
"That really showed us the data and the proof that we absolutely could not push this down the road any longer, that equipment was failing on Election Day and this was the No. 1 priority for the auditors in the state who run the local elections," Preskey said.
Within the next several weeks, electronic poll books will be purchased for each county's polling locations. This will allow workers to efficiently process voters at the polls when they arrive to cast their ballots, according to a statement from Secretary of State Al Jaeger. Distribution of the new voting system and the training of county election officials will be completed by the end of the year.