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Probate Office will update voting machines

The Covington County Probate Office will be purchasing new election ballot machines that are primarily used to assist those with special needs.

Each county in the state is required by law to provide a means for special needs voting and the current AutoMARK machines used by the county are 15 years old. Probate Judge Stacy Brooks said parts for the older machines have become scarce. “These machines are no longer made, so if we need a part it has to be taken from another used machine. If we have a problem close to an election we might not can get it fixed it time. Our staff does a great job running elections, but my fear is that one bad election will make us all look bad,” Brooks said.

The Alabama Secretary of State Office will provide approximately $30,000 toward the purchase of the new machines while an additional $39,000 is available through the Health Awareness Vote Act.  The county will need to pay $4,550 annually for a four-year maintenance agreement.

“We have an obligation to provide these machines in each of our precincts,” said Commission Chairman Greg White. “This seems as good a time as any to make this upgrade with the Secretary of State providing funds to help pay for it.”

The commission approved entering into the four-year contract with ExpressVote and paying the annual maintenance fees.

The commission also discussed the following items during the regular-schedule meeting.

• The county will begin soliciting bids for local lime base materials.

• The sheriff’s office will be reimbursed for recent out-of-state travel for training events to Texas, Florida and Tennessee.

• Covington County Emergency Management Agency Director Susan Harris said her department, the sheriff’s office, the county engineer’s office, and others would be participating in severe weather training next week.

The next regular meeting of the county commission is scheduled for Tuesday, May 25, 9 a.m., at the Covington County Administration Building. The public is invited to attend.