This is the first elections cycle in which the Meigs County Board of Elections will use a Ballots on Demand machine to print its absentee ballots. This year alone, Director Rita Smith told county commissioners Thursday, the county will save nearly 50 percent in printing costs, because the new machine will allow the board to print the documents on an as-needed basis.
In the past, the cost of printing ballots has been a significant cost to the county, not only because it is a costly process, but because state law required the county to print ballots sufficient for 101 percent of its registered voters, Smith said. Now, the law has changed, and fewer ballots must be ordered. The new system will reduce that number even more.
Rita Slavin, board member, said the old requirements created much waste, in that only a relative few of the ballots printed were actually cast. That left the board with stacks of expensive but useless ballots.
Only 8,000 ballots will be printed for this general election, Smith said.
The new Ballot on Demand machine will cost $25,000, and has been financed through a leasing company. The county board will pay $5,000 per year until it is paid off, but Smith said the cost of the machine will easily be realized by the reduced printing costs.
As to why the device is so expensive, Smith said it is necessary to print ballots to set standards. They are numbered and stubbed, so a standard computer program and printer are not sufficient to meet elections standards and voter fraud prevention standards. The system also allows the board to access its voter registration records in combination with the printer.
Voters may begin casting their absentee ballots on Sept. 28.