A new Kansas law this year means that Ellis County will need to replace its voting machines with an election method that allows a hand count of ballots, said Ellis County Clerk Donna Maskus, the county’s chief election officer.

The new law was passed in 2018 and it requires every county to do a post-election audit. The audit is a hand recount of paper ballots for at least one of the contested races on the ballot.

Ellis County has 69 voting machines serving its 10 polling sites. They are 12-year-old iVotronic touch-screen machines from Nebraska-based Election Systems and Software. The machines can’t produce a paper ballot of electronic voting as required by the state’s new audit process, Maskus said.

“We’re looking forward to new machines, it’ll be a new process, in a lot of aspects, for election board workers, and hopefully some cost savings too in the future,” Maskus said. “I hope to have it ready for the next election, the city-school election in November.”

If there’s a primary in August, the machines would be ready by then as well, she said.

At least two demonstrations of voting machines are anticipated.

The first one is 10 a.m. Tuesday in the County Commission chambers downstairs in the Ellis County Administrative Center, 718 Main St.

Maskus said her staff will be there, as well as the three Ellis County Commissioners, and anyone from the public who wants to attend. Election Systems and Software representatives will be on hand too.

“Everything’s going to have to be new, it doesn’t look like anything is going to be compatible,” Maskus said. She didn’t have an estimate of what new machines will cost the county.

The machines being demonstrated Tuesday are the same ones purchased in 2016 by Sedgwick County from Election Systems and Software.

“The paper is very important, so that’s what we’re looking it,” Maskus said. “Now a paper ballot might be that you key it in on electronic and it spits out a paper ballot, or you might mark a paper ballot and feed it into a machine that tabulates it, there’s different options there.”

A second demonstration is anticipated from a different vendor in coming weeks, she said. There’s isn’t a specific amount budgeted for machines. After seeing the demonstrations, Maskus said she’ll seek bids and then present the options to the County Commission.

“We’ll see what is the best fit for us, and financially, we’ll have to consider that,” she said.