Lyon Co. to apply for voting equipment grant
Auditor’s Office prepares for shift back to in-person voting
MARSHALL — The COVID-19 pandemic helped encourage more Lyon County voters to cast absentee and mail-in ballots in 2020, but things could change in future elections, said Lyon County Auditor/Treasurer E.J. Moberg. This week, Moberg said he planned to apply for state grant funds that could help the county prepare for more in-person voting in the future.
On Thursday, county commissioners gave Moberg approval to apply for grant funds, to help with purchasing additional assistive voting devices and electronic poll books that can be used at voting precincts.
On Nov. 17, voting equipment grants from the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office became available, Moberg said. The grant program allows for up to a 75% match for electronic poll books, and up to a 50% match for other voting equipment or technology purchases.
In order to apply for a grant, the county needed a resolution of approval from commissioners. With the application period expiring next week, Moberg said he needed to take his request to the county board on Thursday.
Moberg said he was planning ahead, in case more people come back to the polls in person for future elections. The grant application would cover the purchase of additional Poll Pads, which are tablet computers used for voter check-in at polling places, and OmniBallot voter accessibility equipment.
If more voters go back to the polls in person, “We know we’re going to need two or three more of that piece of equipment,” Moberg said.
While Moberg didn’t have exact grant application details to present to county commissioners on Thursday, he estimated that the cost of the equipment he wanted to purchase could come to a total of roughly $27,000. That rough total would include the cost of three OmniBallot devices and eight Poll Pads, he said.
Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution approving the grant application.
Lyon County had an all-time high number of absentee ballots in the 2020 general election. The county accepted a total of 7,750 absentee ballots. Part of that had to do with the fact that all but seven of Lyon County’s 33 voting precincts had switched to mail-in ballots in 2020, but concerns about COVID safety likely also contributed to the number of early ballots cast in the county.