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New election equipment funded by North Dakota Legislature

Voters cast their ballots Monday, Oct. 31, 2016, at the Baymont Inn in south Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

BISMARCK — North Dakota's chief elections official hopes to have new equipment at the polls for the 2020 contests after state lawmakers approved $12 million for the devices.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger said Wednesday, May 1, the money will be used to purchase new ballot scanners and electronic poll books, which serve as voter records at individual precincts, across the state. The $12 million approved by lawmakers includes $3 million of federal funding.

Jaeger, a Republican, said North Dakotans will still mark a paper ballot but new equipment will be used to count their votes.

County election officials have warned about equipment failures for several years, but the 2017 Legislature rejected funding while the state tightened its belt.

A survey from the North Dakota Association of Counties highlighted problems like jammed ballots and card reader errors. More than two dozen ballot scanners failed during the 2018 elections, according to the survey results.

The budget bill for Jaeger's office, which includes the election equipment funding, has already been signed by Gov. Doug Burgum.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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