The Guilford County commissioners got some good news and some bad news this week regarding the 2020 elections.

The bad news is that, no matter how opposed they are to being forced by the NC General Assembly to purchase new voting machines, the law and circumstances seem to leave them no choice.

The good news, however, is that those new machines are going to cost significantly less than originally estimated.

The topic was a subject of discussion at a Tuesday morning, Nov. 12 meeting when Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson met with county staff – including legal and election staff – to set the agenda for the commissioners meeting next week.

Branson said that, while he and other commissioners are aggravated by the fact that the state is demanding Guilford County abandon perfectly good voting machines and purchase new ones deemed by some to be more secure, he doesn’t see any way around the law that requires the new machines to be in place for the 2020 elections.

“I don’t think we have a choice,” Branson said of purchasing the new machines after discussing the matter with staff.

It’s not at all clear what would happen if the Board of Commissioners voted against the purchase of new machines, but one possible scenario that worried some is that the state would come into the county, conduct the election and hand the county a large bill.

At the Board of Commissioners meeting earlier this month, numerous commissioners said that the state was making a ridiculous demand and two commissioners said that they didn’t intend to vote for the purchase of new voting machines because it was such a tremendous waste of money.

The good news is that, while estimates have been that the county would spend $7 million to $8 million on new machines, the actual cost is coming in way under that. This week, Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt stated that now it looks as though Guilford County will need to spend about $2.2 million to make the initial purchase and another $250,000 to purchase ballots to get the county through the current fiscal year.