November 24, 2005

Grant Will Help County Update Voting Equipment

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced on November 16 that Scotland County is eligible to receive up to $83,600 in one-time federal funds to update voting equipment in accordance with the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA).

The federal act established a program to provide funds to States to replace punch card and hand-written voting systems and to establish the Election Assistance Commission to assist in the administration of Federal elections and to otherwise provide assistance with the administration of federal election laws and programs.

“HAVA will go a long way to address problems involving voter registration, polling place operations, insufficient voter education, the lack of accessibility, and outdated and inaccurate voting equipment,” stated the American Association of People with Disabilities, one of the national proponents of the law change.

HAVA was enacted following the presidential election of 2000. The law requires every polling place to have at least one accessible voting machine for individuals with disabilities. HAVA also requires that Missouri voters have the opportunity to check their ballot for mistakes and make sure they did note “over-vote” before their ballot is cast.

Scotland County will receive up to $33,200 to use toward the purchase of accessible voting machines. More than $50,000 will be available to purchase new voting machines to insure “second-chance voting” which means the ballot is checked when the voter submits it. If there are any errors on the ballot (for example accidentally vote for two candidates or leave one ballot issue blank), the voter is notified and given the opportunity to correct the error, to make sure their vote is counted.

Scotland County Clerk Betty Lodewegen will oversee the local process and is currently seeking bids for the new voting machines.

“As your Secretary of State, my top priorities are to ensure voter confidence and protect the integrity of Missouri’s elections,” stated Carnahan regarding the announcement of the funding. “I want to make it easy to vote and as hard as possible to cheat. I’m pleased to announce that the citizens of Scotland County will receive this money to help finance an upgrade of their voting equipment.”

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