- Associated Press - Saturday, July 30, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Madison City Clerk’s office is scrambling to prepare for next month’s primary after flooding and humidity damaged the city’s voting equipment.

A storm on July 21 dropped nearly 3 inches of rain on the Madison area, flooding the voting equipment storage space in the basement of a city-owned shopping center.

More of the voting equipment was damaged than earlier thought, the Wisconsin State Journal (https://bit.ly/2aol6SY ) reported. The city clerk’s office now says 97 of the city’s 98 tabulators and 90 other machines used to help voters with physical impairments or language barriers will have to be replaced.

Damage from moisture might not be evident immediately, and manufacturer Election Systems & Software will not certify machines that have been stored at the site.

City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl said the city will use equipment rented from the manufacturer for at least the Aug. 9 primary, and the company will credit the rental cost toward purchasing new equipment. But using rental machines will shorten the timeline for testing before the election, less than two weeks away.



Normally, testing begins about two weeks before the election to allow for deliveries to polling places the following week. But the rental equipment will not arrive until Monday, giving the clerk’s office staff about a week of testing.

“We have never started testing the Wednesday before an election, so a lot of our resources have had to be shifted around to deal with this,” Witzel-Behl said.

One tabulator used to count votes during a recent mock election at the library’s summer carnival survived because it was stored in a vault in the clerk’s office. Witzel-Behl said replacing the other 97 tabulators and the 90 discontinued ballot marking machines could cost up to $1 million, but will be covered by the city’s insurance.

The basement also flooded in 2013. That prompted Madison to replace its dated voting equipment a year ahead of schedule.

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Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, https://www.madison.com/wsj

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