Kansas City, Missouri Allows their Voters the Opportunity to Choose New Voting Equipment

Kansas City, Missouri like many other jurisdictions across the nation, have found themselves in need of new voting equipment to enhance customer service for voters during the election process.

The Kansas City Election Board, alongside voters and elections workers, were given a chance at two separate public demonstrations to test different possible options for new equipment, which included touchscreen machines, printers and tools that would assist poll workers with voter registration information. Citizens could then express their thoughts and concerns about the voting equipment.

Many states are faced with a similar dilemma where their current voting equipment has not been updated since the passage of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002. HAVA provided funding to states to replace outdated and faulty voting equipment. The life span, however, of much of the current voting equipment deployed in states is approaching obsolescence and maintenance for many of these machines has begun to financially burden many jurisdictions.   

The Democratic director of the Kansas City Election Board, Lauri Ealom, compared the city’s need to update the 13-year-old equipment to newer technology saying the difference will be like that “between a first-generation iPhone and an iPhone 6.”

Ealom also says, “it’s getting virtually impossible for us to replace the parts,” as the city plans to have “state-of-the-art” voting machines ready for use in their April 2018 election.

While some concern was expressed by some elderly voters and their ability to independently operate the machines during the demonstration event, the consensus seemed to find that the machines were easy to operate and would provide for quicker assistance at the polls – certainly providing a cut back to lines that form due to polling place machine jams or turning current 9 minute tasks to tasks that take only a matter of seconds.

Kansas City intends to pick a vendor and the new equipment this August to allow time to prepare and install before the April 2018 election.

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