Courthouse Square

Observer-Reporter

Observer-Reporter

Washington County’s Courthouse Square office building

For decades, Washington County’s voting machines, whether punch cards or touchscreen devices, have been collapsible and fairly portable.

But with the addition of a paper record with which the electronic tabulation of votes can be compared, scanners and the bins in which paper will be deposited are much bulkier pieces of equipment.

Washington County advertised for bids in November for delivering and picking up the devices, which are too big to conveniently place into an automobile for trips to and from 180 voting precincts.

On Thursday, the board of commissioners unanimously voted to award a contract to All Ways Moving and Storage, West Maiden Street, Washington.

Under the terms, it will cost $135 per hour per truck with a two-person crew. Melanie Ostrander, Washington County director of elections, said the bid from All Ways was the only one received. The firm has experience in collecting and carting voting machines dropped off on election night at Courthouse Square.

Ostrander, who succeeded Larry Spahr as elections director last year, said, “How long they’ve been doing this, I don’t know, but it’s been for a long time.”

In past years, the cost of truck rental and moving assistance has varied, and it has been provided by several entities.

According to the county purchasing department, it was $9,242 in 2017, a year in which no special elections were needed in Washington County.

The cost of this service nearly doubled in 2018, the year of a special election in March due to the resignation the previous year of U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, to $17,236.

Last year, which also saw a special election in the state senatorial contest in April in the 37th District, which includes Peters Township’s 12 precincts, the cost was $10,975.

The elections office staff trained this week with the new equipment, and members of local election boards are signing up for two-hour sessions to be held between Feb. 18 and April 13.

Voters will go to the polls April 28 for the Pennsylvania primary.

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