BISMARCK — Burleigh County has received new election equipment being distributed to North Dakota counties over the next few weeks by state election officials.
Auditor/Treasurer Kevin Glatt said the county on Monday, Aug. 26, received 50 ballot scanners, 50 accessibility devices for voters who may have difficulty marking ballots and one central scanner for tabulating absentee ballots. The equipment vendor is now testing the devices after delivery before formal training in September.
"We're excited that we have them," Glatt said.
Morton County Auditor Dawn Rhone said she expects the new machines, including 18 ballot scanners, this week, likely on Thursday after the old machines are taken away Wednesday from the courthouse in Mandan.
The secretary of state's office in 2015 pressed the Legislature for new election equipment, but funding priorities didn't favor the request, especially during deep budget cuts in 2017.
The 2019 Legislature budgeted $8.2 million to meet $3 million in federal funds for the new election equipment statewide to replace 15-year-old machines, which have failed in some counties. The North Dakota Association of Counties surveyed county auditors earlier this year and noted 27 ballot scanners that failed in 16 counties in the 2018 primary and general elections.
State election officials in July received and began testing more than 900 machines and devices. They include 425 precinct tabulators, or ballot scanners, 425 assistive devices, for voters with physical difficulty in marking ballots, and 53 central count machines, for processing absentee and mail ballots.
Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum expects the new machines to be fully distributed by mid-September, though one election in Stark County next month will use the old equipment one more time. Voters on Sept. 10 will decide the fate of a proposed $89 million bond issue to fund school construction including a new high school in Dickinson.
State Elections Director John Arnold said new voting equipment had been delivered to 25 of the state's 53 counties as of Monday.
Silrum expects a vendor to be selected soon for new electronic pollbooks, which Rhone has said will save time in recording voters of a precinct.
The new voting equipment will be in use for the June 9, 2020, primary election. The new machines will still use paper ballots, and voters won't notice much difference.