By Adam Pack
The Greenbrier County Commission met for a special session Tuesday, Aug. 30 to discuss a proposed grant application to the HAVA Election Security Fund. HAVA (Help Americans Vote Act) is a 2002 federal bill that establishes funding and makes grants available for counties and municipalities to update voting hardware.
Loudermilk explained the situation as one of both necessity and serendipity. “We’re getting information now from ESNS [the manufacturer of the voting machines] that they’re going to stop supporting the current machines we have and stop making parts for them as well, so the timing worked out well that I found this grant. This grant will match our contribution to the purchase of new voting machines up to 50 percent and I’m requesting the full 50 percent match.”
That means that Greenbrier County will have to put up $712,817 for the new machines, and if the grant application is successful, the HAVA fund will supply the rest. This offer is made all the more attractive by the fact that the county can finance their portion of the payment “at zero percent, so that’s a pretty good deal I think,” Loudermilk said.
The machines currently in use are nearly 15 years old, so an update is necessary, but it won’t take effect right away. Loudermilk clarified that, “These machines will not be in use for the 2022 midterm election. The time to ship them, hook them up for training, and get my staff and all the poll workers familiar with them will take some time, but by 2024 we’ll have everyone up to speed and ready for the general election.”
Loudermilk says that she “is really glad to have this grant now, because we could have gone earlier for these machines as most other counties in the state had two years ago, but with the courthouse addition we just wanted to make the best decision we could for the county’s finances. Now, with this grant and the end of the life cycle of these machines coming, I think we’ve gotten all the value out of them that we can and we can get the new ones at hald the price. It’s a win-win.”