NORTH ADAMS — The city plans to upgrade the machines that count voters' ballots in every election.
The City Council appropriated $25,500 on Tuesday to purchase five new voting machines, the first the city has acquired since 2007.
"Those machines have reached effectively the end of their serviceable life because, among other things, the clock chips that drive them are no longer manufactured," said Mayor Thomas Bernard. "If there were any issues with the machines, they would simply fail to work and we would not be able to replace the parts and operate them."
As the old machines become obsolete, City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau brought the proposal for new machines forward ahead of the next election cycle.
The new machines are just an updated version of the old ones and were purchased through the same vendor, Bernard said. The vendor will provide training to election workers on how to use the new machines and be present on the city's first election day using them.
"[LHS Associates] is a very reputable company and they're always there on election day when we need them,"
The new machines have more current safety features, and Gomeau said they provide "more clarity for the voters."
"It's an investment the city needs to make," Bernard said.
The machines are not connected to the internet and are stored in the vault in the city clerk's office. In the event of failure, the paper ballots can still be hand-counted.
The life expectancy of the new machines exceeds 20 years, according to Gomeau. The company will provide a $2,500 credit for each of the old machines.
The funding for the machines came from the city's certified free cash.
The council passed the measure unanimously.
"I think this is important based on our national climate that we support something like this," said Councilor Marie T. Harpin.
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