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Aurora County upgrades election equipment

PLANKINTON — Voters with disabilities will have more independence voting the next time Aurora County opens its polls.

The Aurora County Commission recently spent more than $17,000 of the county's Help America Vote Act funds to upgrade its election equipment by purchasing two ballot counters and two ballot marking devices. The county also received three voting machines using South Dakota Help America Vote Act funds.

The ExpressVote Ballot Marking Devices is a machine allowing users to select their voting preference and the machine marks the choice. Then it prints a paper copy of their selection that is inserted into the ballot counting machine to be counted. Anybody can use the ExpressVote machine, Aurora County Auditor Susan Urban said, but it was purchased specifically to assist people with disabilities.

"These ExpressVote machines will give voters with disabilities and special needs the opportunity to be able to vote independently and privately," Urban said.

The machines will be used in polling places throughout the county for various elections, Urban said. Each ExpressVote machine cost $3,210, and each ballot counting machine cost $5,495. Ballots will be fed into the counting machine by hand and counted electronically.