The Trimble County Fiscal Court voted unanimously to change suppliers for voting machines.

The decision to switch came at the request of County Clerk Jerry Powell. He wrote the fiscal court a letter regarding $54,000 the county received through the State Board of Elections to update the election process.

The county currently uses ES&S for equipment and will switch to Harp Enterprises. The switch will mean new equipment and a new way of reading votes. Harp uses paper ballots that will be scanned into a computer to tally the numbers.

"I have talked to several counties that have switched to the paper ballot system and they all like the paper ballots over the machines," Powell said in the letter. Paper ballots are expected to reduce confusion by voters and be easier to tally.

Powell said the county could keep the old voting machines and purchase some new ones, so each precinct could have two touch-screen machines.

The machines and software will be one-year-old used equipment and will cost $77,500. The county will have to pick up the rest of the bill that does not get covered by the $54,000 from the state.

"It's extremely difficult to incur the expense. However, I think it's necessary for the election process," said Judge-Executive Randy Stevens.

Had the county decided to buy all the machines and equipment new, it would have cost $179,000. Renewing the contract with ES&S would have cost about $64,000.

Stevens also said officials from Harp would be available on election night to come to Trimble County and help fix any problems they may be experiencing.