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The Executive Board heard three proposals Feb. 8 to create special committees of the Legislature.
LR403, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, would establish the Election Technology Committee to study the longevity of technology used by election commissioners and county clerks to conduct elections as of Jan. 1, 2016.
The committee also would study the feasibility of updating or replacing elections technology.
Hansen said that passage of the 2002 Help America Vote Act required states to ensure equal access to elections for individuals with disabilities. In response, the Nebraska secretary of state’s office used approximately $15 million in federal funds to purchase Automark machines, which are used by visually impaired voters.
Those machines soon will need to be replaced, Hansen said, and the state needs to decide who will bear the replacement cost.
“Adding the purchase of election machines could double or triple county [election] expenses,” he said, noting that counties traditionally are responsible for the cost of holding elections.
Bri McLarty, director of voting rights for Nebraskans for Civic Reform, testified in support of the measure, saying the state needs to begin exploring how to address the estimated $20 million replacement cost.
“While the machines may not break tomorrow,” McLarty said, “we need to start planning for the inevitable.”