Already In Debt For Over A Billion, Williamson County Officials Propose New Voting Equipment Purchase, Voter Integrity Advocates Say There Is Better Alternative (Update 1/31/23)

***Update 1/31/23 – Some of our numbers were a bit off. Article has been updated to reflect corrected numbers.***

Image Credit: Matt Blaze / CC

The Tennessee Conservative [By Kelly M. Jackson] –

 In 2017, experts insisted that due to foreign bad actors influencing the 2016 election, that the only way to ensure the protection of “democracy” was to make a full return to hand marked paper ballots. 

Then, the November 2020 election occurred, and all the voices that advocated for a rescue of democracy itself, have since determined that while voting machines are inherently vulnerable in ways that paper ballots are not, it doesn’t warrant the removal of those machines entirely in favor of a whole new system. 

Election Integrity groups that advocate for exactly that, believe they have the data that supports the need for the change. 

 In Williamson County, election officials are considering a purchase of the voter tabulating machines that have thus far been leased from their owners, Electronic Systems & Software. 

The lease Williamson County Election Commission agreed to, was due to the failure of the previous machines they had been employing from Dominion Voting Systems. 

The cost of this lease for the replacement machines was $600,000. This arrangement was made at the behest of The Tennessee State Department, who insisted that Williamson County could not continue to use Dominion machines. 

The current proposal is a purchase of the machines that have thus far been leased to Williamson County. The total amount that has been spent thus far is about 2.2 million dollars, which includes Williamson County’s 2019 purchase of the Dominion machines ($1.5M) plus the 2022 rental cost of $591,595 and the extra $214,000 that the Williamson County Board of Commissioners gave the WCEC in August 2022 for more machines and some election reimbursement costs.

Which is no small issue when the county is already in debt to the tune of $1.074 billion dollars.

The Tennessee Conservative reached out to Williamson County Commissioner Mary Smith (R-District 5- Arrington/Nolensville) and asked what she thought about the prospect of the purchase, and she had this to say: “We need to focus on simplifying the process, securing our votes and saving taxpayers money.”  

The grassroots voter integrity group, Tennessee Election Integrity, has the cost per vote breakdown for elections where there are machines factored into the process vs no machines, election workers only.  These estimates were based on the numbers of voters who voted in all 3 elections in Williamson County in 2022.  

Their breakdown, which can be found when you click the hyperlink above, indicates that there is an average savings per vote, for all 3 elections of $3.59. This may not seem like a huge savings on its face, but do the math. 143,659 people voted in all 3 elections in 2022. At $3.59 average savings per voter, that would be a total savings of $515,735.81, respectively. 

 And with the county over one billion dollars in debt, it seems a savings, any savings, would be the most prudent path forward.

The resistance to the change from the Williamson County Election Commission is based in their concern that the vote count will take too much time without the tabulators, and the issues raised by voter integrity advocates, are not supported to the degree that an entirely new system eliminating the tabulators from the equation would be warranted. 

In 2017, there was an argument made that vote tabulating machines were vulnerable to errors and interference that could cause the outcome of an election to be called into question.  In 2023, the same argument is being made again, but with more data to reinforce the premises that hand marked ballots would be safer and as it turns out, less expensive for taxpayers. 

A decision will need to be made as the next election looms on the horizon in 2024, along with a new law that goes into effect in January of that year, that will require all voting machines in use to be equipped with a voter verified paper trail audit. 

About the Author: Kelly Jackson is a recent escapee from corporate America, and a California refugee to Tennessee. Christ follower, Wife and Mom of three amazing teenagers. She has a BA in Comm from Point Loma Nazarene University, and has a background in law enforcement and human resources. Since the summer of 2020, she has spent any and all free time in the trenches with local grassroots orgs, including Mom’s for Liberty Williamson County and Tennessee Stands as a core member.  Outspoken advocate for parents rights, medical freedom, and individual liberty.

One thought on “Already In Debt For Over A Billion, Williamson County Officials Propose New Voting Equipment Purchase, Voter Integrity Advocates Say There Is Better Alternative (Update 1/31/23)

  • February 1, 2023 at 9:56 am

    Delete error(manipulated)ridden machines
    HAND ballots.
    More poll locations=less ballots per location=accuracy=greatly reduced fraud=counts publicly released per location. Not by district. Not by county.
    Why is this so difficult to understand?


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