The Delaware County Board of Elections discussed the purchase of a new mailing machine with county commissioners Thursday morning.

The board is trying to be proactive with changes in absentee voter ballots, officials said.

“We have outgrown the current machine,” said Karla Herron, director of the county Board of Elections. “The current machine cannot stuff a two-page ballot.”

The board used to stuff all envelopes by hand until 2012 when county commissioners approved the purchase of a $38,500 mail machine the board now uses.

Herron compared using the machine to the cost of labor to hand-stuff envelops. “The machine paid for itself in the 2012 election,” Herron said.

Herron told commissioners that board officials are looking at a machine from Pitney Bowes they could either lease for $78,000 over a five-year period or purchase for $68,000.

Josh Pedaline, deputy director of the county Board of Elections, told The Gazette Thursday afternoon that the $68,000 cost includes the cost of maintenance. “The cost is $46,000,” he said. “We added the cost of maintenance to use as a snapshot.”

Herron told commissioners that the board was leaning toward the lease to keep up with changes and updates in absentee ballots.

“It’s the same type of machine used by Franklin County’s board of elections, just on a smaller scale,” Herron said.

Herron said that absentee voting is always changing because of the lengthy language of ballot issues. “In 2012 the Ohio Secretary of State sent out a statewide absentee mailer which drives up absentee voting,” she said.

Herron told commissioners that with changes in language length for issues on the ballot, the board did go to a longer ballot but it is now looking at sending out two-page ballots. She said the current machine would not stuff two pages.

Herron said the machine is manufactured nearby and it would only take two or three days to receive one. Absentee ballots will go out Sept. 1 for military and overseas voters, Herron said.

By D. Anthony Botkin

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D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.