Raleigh, N.C. — State House lawmakers voted Wednesday to give county boards of elections an extra 20 months to replace their touch-screen voting machines with machines that produce paper ballots.
Current state law requires all counties to complete the transition to paper ballots by Jan. 1, 2018. House Bill 373 extends that deadline to Sept. 1, 2019.
Sponsor Rep. Dennis Riddell, R- Alamance, said 24 counties in the state are using touch-screen or direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines that don't produce the required paper record. Those counties will have to replace all of their machines with new ones.
Of the 24 counties, Riddell said, nine are Tier 1 – that is, among the poorest in the state – and 10 of them are Tier 2.
"That’s quite a heavy lift for some counties to do," Riddell said, "coming out of the recession."
Rep. Frank Iler, R-Brunswick, agreed, saying the changeover will cost his county "well over a million dollars."
Riddell said the delay might also give the state time to certify more vendors for the new machines, offering those counties more options from which to choose.
The bill now goes to the Senate.