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Lexington County getting voting machines ready for elections

Lexington County election administrator Lenice Shoemaker tells News 19 these machines sit in a storage room for most of the year.

LEXINGTON, S.C. — Maintaining and renewing licenses for election equipment is vital. If it's not maintained, and something goes wrong, it can impact the process of casting your ballot.

That's why this week, Lexington County Council met to approve about $184,000 for voting machine maintenance fees and licensing renewals. 

It's a yearly to-do list item, but it's also critical to election integrity. 

"Maintenance on the equipment, so if something breaks, the screen breaks and you need a screen replaced, preventative maintenance on scanners, making sure the rollers are clean and everything's functioning properly," said Chris Whitmire, the South Carolina Election Commission spokesperson.

Lexington County Election Administrator Lenice Shoemaker tells News 19 her office has been lucky the past 12 years she's worked there. 

"I didn't have any trouble with any of my machines that I get," Shoemaker said. "I had a battery that was going low once, which these don't use that anymore and the rover came, swapped out the batteries and it was fine. I just used a different machine until he could check it."

But it's better to be safe than sorry. Lenice explains her staff is starting the process of checking all the equipment, from cleaning it to making sure all the buttons work to scanning test ballots.

After all, this equipment just sits in a storage room, unused for long periods of time if there are no special or municipal elections. And when it is used, it's on the move.

"Equipment goes out to polling places, travels out and you're putting it in trucks and you're taking it out to 100 different places out in the county and it's being unloaded off of trucks and then it's being put back on trucks. It's being moved around a lot, so things can happen," Whitmire said.

Lenice tells News19 that her staff checks every piece of equipment five or more times before election day, and if there are any flaws, she'll make a sticky note and tell the SC Election Commission. 

According to the Lexington County election administrator, they'll also be adopting a new system this year, with a logistics team picking up and dropping off voting equipment. They tell News 19 they hope it will make the voting machine distribution to polling sites easier. Their staff and state election commission employees will be present to oversee the process, too. 

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