New mail-In vote processing machine will save county money

The purchase of a new ballot sorting machine, at a cost of more than $200,000, was approved by the Adams County Board of Commissioners at today’s meeting. “We were given a lump sum by the state to help with the purchase and have utilized that,” said commissioner Randy Phiel.

The Agilis Falcon ballot sorting machine made by Runbeck Election Services will not be used for walk-in voting.

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County manager Steve Nevada said the purchase would be covered through a Pennsylvania State Integrity grant offered this year. An extended warranty, as well as maintenance and software, will add an annual cost of $30,000 beginning in the second year.

The new purchase, which will include the cost of setup and training, will streamline the task of sorting mail-in ballots. Right now, each mail-in ballot must be opened, scanned, registered, and verified for signatures and other issues by hand. Going forward, the new machine will complete those tasks. “These aren’t things we weren’t already doing. We are just increasing the efficiency and saving the manpower,” said Nevada.

Nevada said he wasn’t sure if the new device would be ready for the May primary election. “It has to be built, installed, and the training provided,” he said, adding that it is expected to be up and running by the general election in the fall.  

“People should know it was vetted very well,” said Commissioner James Martin, who added that there was a lot of comparison shopping and consults with other counties before making the decision. “We think it will help us with the mail-in process, and the grant covers it – an additional bonus.”

In other election news, a poll place scanner/tabulator and Express Vote machine was purchased for use in Conewago Township at the cost of nearly $13,000. Commissioner Phiel said the purchase would help streamline the vote in one of the county’s largest polling places.

The township, which now has two precincts, will likely see a third soon. County solicitor Molly Mudd said the state would probably sign off on the split from two to three precincts, but the process has not yet been completed.

In other board business, the Adams County Commissioners presented a certificate of recognition to the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania for their 85th Anniversary. The mission of the Fellowship is to promote the legacy and memory of President Abraham Lincoln, the Gettysburg Address, and the dedication and history of the Gettysburg National Cemetery through educational events and programs. Founded in 1938, the Fellowship commissioned and maintains the Return-Visit Statue in front of the David Wills Home.

“It’s only fitting and proper we provide this award today,” Commissioner Phiel said, borrowing from Lincoln’s address. He and Commissioner Martin thanked the Fellowship members for their work which garners thousands of visitors annually.

February 5 through 11 was proclaimed Future Business Leaders of America week in Adams County. Gettysburg Areas School District (GASD) student Jacob Dickerson addressed the commissioners and thanked them for the proclamation. Eric Wadel, a business teacher for GASD and FBLA advisor for the past eight years, said the program offers students from ninth to twelfth grades the opportunity to participate in community service, leadership training, and competitions at the regional, state, and national levels. Last year, two FBLA students from GASD placed 10th in the nation. 

Commissioner Martin said he was proud that students are taking this opportunity to become tomorrow’s new business leaders. “I encourage you to follow the same principles of leadership that Lincoln followed,” he said.

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The Adams County Board of Commissioners recognized Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania for its 85th Anniversary Celebration. From left, Vice-president of Lincoln Fellowship, Kenneth Kime, Board member Dr. Ashley Luskey, treasurer Susan Iuliano, Commissioner James Martin,  Board Member Steven Herr, Commissioner Randy Phiel, President Wendy Allen, and secretary, Susan Paddock [Judi Seniura]. 

Featured image caption: Feb. 5 to 11 was proclaimed Future Business Leaders of America at this morning’s Adams County Commissioner’s meeting. From left, Commissioner James Martin, Commissioner Randy Phiel, Gettysburg Area School District (GASD) student Jacob Dickerson, and Eric Wadel, business educator and FBLA advisor at GASD [Judi Seniura]. 

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Judith Cameron Seniura is a freelance reporter. She began her journalism career in the early ‘70s and has written for newspapers, magazines, and other media in Ontario, Canada, Alaska, Michigan, Nebraska, San Antonio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

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