Editor's note: A special Young County assembly met Friday afternoon, June 13, to further discuss the elections equipment issue.  The group included Young County Republican Chair Kyle Milam, Young County Democratic Chair Fran Edens, County Judge John Bullock, Commissioner Jimmy Wiley, Elections Administrator Lauren Sullivan and County Clerk Debra Taylor. Midway through the meeting, the group approved recommending that the Young County Commissioners Court purchase the new Hart Equipment at its June 23 meeting. The motion also included a stipulation that Young County look into selling its current voting equipment to another county, with the greatest interest being in Ector County.

For the second time in two months, Young County Elections Administrator Lauren Sullivan has requested new election equipment from Hart Intercivic valued at more than $300,000. And for the second time, the Young County Commissioners Court tabled the discussion.

What has county officials most hesitant is the cost, which amounts to about $70,000 per year over 5 years, plus interest. “I don't think we should put the taxpayer out of all that money at this moment,” County Commissioner Matt Pruitt said.

Three of the Young County Commissioners, Pruitt, Jimmy Wiley and Mike Sipes, recently attended a trade show in Galveston where Hart displayed equipment among its inventory equipment that the county is currently using.

“If they're still selling it, then in my opinion, it's still a good product,” Pruitt said.

Sullivan disagrees, and said that the new machines would be more efficient, more user friendly, less prone to maintenance, and, tying the benefits to another current county problem, less bulky.

“They have an intuitive design that prompts voters to finish ballots and make sure that voters have every opportunity to vote for the candidate or issue that they want,” Sullivan said. “Our current equipment is accurate, but it is taking more time and money to keep them in top form.”

Another problem with keeping and maintaining the equipment Young County already uses, according to Sullivan, is its Windows 2000 operating system. By 2015, Windows will no longer be distributed, she said.

Right now, Hart is offering the county a contract that includes a 25 percent savings over the total cost, or up to $150,000 over the length of the financing term, but this deal ends June 30.

Read the entire story in this weekend's Graham Leader.