Having all 20 precincts open in Clay County for the November 3rd General Election moved one step closer Wednesday afternoon as the fiscal court voted to purchase new voting machines.

County Republican Chairman Yancey White advised the court that he had been working with the approval of county judge-executive Johnny Johnson in negotiating a contract to purchase the required new machines.

“We can’t disenfranchise our voters from exercising their right to vote,” White said.  “I am begging this court to purchase these machines and do the right thing for the citizens of Clay County.”

White further explained that by dealing directly with the manufacturer the county would save over $17,000 on the purchase.  The total cost to the county for the machines is $187,933.55.

White negotiated a deal that would allow the court to pay lump sums over the course of their next budge beginning in July 2021 through to the next budget in July 22.

“This would be interest free and you would be able to plan for this expenditure in your next budget and would not affect your current budget,” he said.  The current budget expires next June.

Magistrates agreed whole-heartedly on opening all 20 precincts.  Clay County may be the only county in the state that will have all their precincts open as most are using a modified plan due to COVID-19.

Health officials say utilizing all precincts is safer due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Court members voted to approve the purchase and now the next step involves the county board of elections.

The board will meet Thursday and are expected to proceed with opening all precincts and submitting the plan to the state board of elections.

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