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Davison officials search for home for new voting machine

The unused space on the fourth floor of the Davison County Courthouse is not fit to house a new vote-counting machine.

The county’s commissioners took a tour of the courthouse’s fourth floor Tuesday in Mitchell as part of their regular meeting and discussed using the space to hold a $72,000 vote-counting machine, which arrived at the courthouse last week.

Previously, the county used the fourth floor as its law library and for a computer terminal. But those were removed earlier this year, leaving the fourth floor unused.

The new vote-counting machine has to be kept in a climate-controlled environment and must be locked to keep the general public from tampering with it.

But not having air conditioning violates part of a maintenance agreement the county has with the company it purchased the machine from, Election Systems and Software of Omaha, Neb., according to Davison County Auditor Susan Kiepke.

The previous machine was kept in a locked storage closet on the fourth floor, but that will not work for the new machine.

Kiepke wanted to use an existing room on the fourth floor to store the machine, which could then be locked off. But attorneys use that room to meet with clients when court is taking place on lower floors.

The commissioners instead decided to look for a cage-like container that will allow Kiepke to secure the machine when it’s not being used. The machine will likely be kept in the auditor’s office, which will also use the current commission meeting room once the commission moves its meetings to the 1420 N. Main St. location later this year.

Still, the question about what to do with the fourth floor at the courthouse remains. A jury room is available to be used when needed and the county stores some election materials on the fourth floor. Until the mid-1990s, the county’s jail was on the fourth floor.

No other decisions were made Tuesday, but the commission indicated it wants to see county departments making use of it, if possible. Chairman John Claggett said a large renovation of the space is probably out of the question, considering the upgrades that would be needed, such as air conditioning and electrical upgrades and making the floor more accessible for those with disabilities.

“It would be a huge expense,” he said.

Other business

In other regular business Tuesday, the commissioners:

  • Tabled a request for the highway department to purchase new grinding bits for road work until the exact price is determined and the issue can be on the agenda.
  • Heard from Kiepke that early absentee voting for the June 3 primary has been slow to this date.
  • Approved bills and the previous meeting’s minutes.