The Jackson County Commission is considering replacing all of the county’s voting equipment.

County Clerk Cheryl Bright said the county’s voting machines are nearly 20 years old. Federal grant funding is available from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office that could help offset part of the $593,000 cost. The grants could provide as much as $250,000 in funding.

“I feel like this is an opportunity that might not come up down the road,” Bright said.

The new machines would still use touchscreen technology, but would not employ the “paper roll” method of recording a hard copy, Bright said. Instead, the machines print a hard copy for the ballot box on a cardstock piece of paper that is inserted into the machine when the voter casts their ballot.

This would be an improvement since the paper roll mechanism in the current machines have been problematic, Bright said.

“We’ve had to take them apart a lot because of paper jams. It’s not easy, you have to take the entire face of the machine off,” she said.

Commission President Dick Waybright said it is important that the county looks into replacing the voting machines, particularly since grant funding is available.

“I agree it’s something we have to do,” she said.

Through the company that sells the new voting machines, ES&S, the county can get four years financing at zero percent interest rate for 10 new voting machines and the devices used to tabulate votes.

Bright said other counties in West Virginia may be interested in purchasing Jackson County’s old equipment.

The deadline for the grant application is Aug. 24. The County Commission plans to approve a resolution to apply for the grant at its next meeting Aug. 15