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Delaware lawmakers release $10 million for new voting system

Sarah Mueller
Bond Bill Committee Co-chairs Dave Sokola and Quinn Johnson

Delaware lawmakers signed off Monday on a new voting system for the First State.

The co-chairs of the Bond Bill Committee released money set aside in the fiscal year 2019 budget pending the outcome of vendor negotiations. Lawmakers say they will also introduce legislation to require randomized audits of the paper ballots.

The new system costs $13 million, $3 million of which will come from the federal government. It includes a voter registration system and voting machines.

Elections Commissioner Elaine Manlove said it wasn’t certain until Monday whether lawmakers would give her the full $10 million in state funding to purchase the entire system.

“So, we would have had to scale it back," she said. "We would have not gotten the poll books or not gotten the absentee or not gotten the election management. We didn’t what we were going to be able to buy.”

The new machine creates a paper ballot it marks and tabulates for each voter. But Jennifer Hill of Common Cause Delaware said she’s concerned about the accuracy of the computer filling out the ballot for the voter.

“It’s not hand marked and we don’t really know if the voters can verify what is on this piece of paper they’re calling the ballot," she said. "It’s unclear at this moment whether it’s going to be a viable way for someone to verify their vote.”

Hill and a representative from the Delaware Coalition for Open Government unsuccessfully called for the committee to delay appropriating the funds. Advocates say they’re unhappy with the selection and didn’t feel included in the process.

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