Itawamba County leaders have upgraded some of the county’s election equipment ahead of the Aug. 6 primaries.

The county recently purchased 56 ballot bags and an equal number of rolling supply bags. Poll workers will use the former to keep ballots safe as they travel from voting precincts back to the county courthouse on election night. The latter, which with wheels and extending handles, look a bit like luggage, will be used to haul equipment back and forth from voting locations.

The ballot and supply bags were purchased for $11,883. They were paid for through money provided by the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office to acquire and upgrade voting equipment and supplies.

Gates said this money is allocated every year.

In addition to the new ballot and supply bags, the county has purchased a variety of new equipment that will be used in the Aug. 6 primary, including 10 new touch-screen voting machines, which will be added to the county’s supply of 100.

Additional equipment purchased by the county includes:

  • a new laptop for poll worker training
  • a printer for photo registration, poll books, etc.
  • a new GEMS server, which helps tabulate ballots
  • general election supplies, including headphones, keypads and access cards
  • a new scanner to process absentee ballots

According to Gates, the equipment was purchased using federal funds provided through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. The county was approved to spend $32,396; the price tag of the equipment purchased came in at just over $20,600.

The ballot bags will replace the large, metal containers the county has used as ballot boxes since the mid-1990s. The bags feature a locking flap at the top for security and should be much lighter to lug around.

“We’re hoping this will be a lot easier for the poll workers to manage,” Gates said. “We’re going to break them in in August.”

adam.armour@journalinc.com Twitter: @admarmr

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