The integrity of the U.S. voting system has been a hot topic in recent months. With that in mind, let’s take a look at recent voting equipment updated in Otter Tail County where fair elections and voter tabulations have gone very well.

In 2018 Otter Tail County obtained a Voting Equipment Grant totaling $169,070 from the state of Minnesota to replace tabulators and add poll pads. Matching dollars were required in order to complete the project, paid for by county taxpayers through the annual levy.

“All of the DS200 units were acquired in 2018 and most of the poll pads were also acquired in 2018,” said County Auditor-Treasurer Wayne Stein. “However, we also acquired poll pads in 2019.”

 The last upgrades, with state assistance, took place back in 2006.

“We have 91 precincts here in Otter Tail County, so seeking grant dollars to replace outdated voting equipment was warranted,” Stein said.

The DS200 is a precinct-based ballot scanner and vote tabulator that combines the flexibility and efficiency of digital-imaging technology. This method supports paper-based voting and has taken traditional optical-scan ballot vote tabulation into the 21st century. 

Poll pads are used in place of paper poll books to check in voters, see whether they have already received or voted a mail ballot, and direct them to their correct polling place if they are in the wrong location.

Stein said that, when all was said and done, the total dollar amount for these voting system upgrades for Otter Tail County totaled $466,940.

Otter Tail County is one of 87 counties in Minnesota. States oversee voting procedures throughout the United States. 

Stein and other county auditors work in coordination with the Minnesota Secretary of State office in St. Paul. That office at the state capitol oversees statewide elections.