Hamilton is last county in Tennessee to ditch Dominion voting machines

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Election official Jamie Hightower stacks voting privacy booths at the Hamilton County Election Commission in preparation for the November 2020 election.

Hamilton County elections officials say they will replace voting machines made by Dominion Voting Systems with a new vendor ahead of the upcoming election in March.

In early December, Hamilton County is expected to receive 130 new voting machines from Election Systems and Software, a vendor used by 23 other counties in Tennessee.

Local taxpayer dollars will not be used to purchase the machines, said Scott Allen, administrator at the Hamilton County Election Commission, in a phone interview. Instead, the county will use a $2 million state grant to buy the new machines.

Hamilton County is the last county in Tennessee to use voting machines from Dominion, a company that allies of former President Donald Trump unsuccessfully claimed was at the center of a conspiracy to rig the 2020 presidential election in favor of President Joe Biden.

Many of those allegations, with no evidence, were aired by Fox News hosts after the 2020 election. Following a defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion against the network, Fox News settled, paying nearly $800 million in damages to Dominion.

(READ MORE: Hamilton County reports no problems with Dominion voting machines)

Kristi Berry, chief deputy for the Hamilton County Election Commission, said in a phone interview that the allegations against Dominion played no role in the county going with a different vendor. She said the county experienced no issues with the voting machines during the 2020 election or any other election.

"We had zero problems out of Dominion," Berry said. "I have nothing but good things to say."

Allen said the county went with the new vendor because Dominion in its bid was not going to fully replace the county's fleet of voting machines.

"We wanted all new equipment. We had this since 2014," Allen said. "As with any piece of equipment -- election equipment, home equipment, TVs, phones, anything you have for 10 years -- you upgrade, you feel like you need to get something new on the market."

Federal guidelines instituted this month require new voting machines to have a higher standard of internet and physical security, Allen said. The county's old machines would have been grandfathered in, but the county wanted to meet the new standard, he said.

"To be on the forefront of election and cybersecurity, we wanted something that already was thinking forward to the future and had those standards already in it," Allen said.

(READ MORE: Records requests sent to every Tennessee county seek 2020 election data)

Following the 2020 election in Hamilton County, election officials saw an influx of records requests.

Allen said Friday the election commission hasn't received a records request related to the 2020 election in more than eight months.

Before Hamilton County made the decision to go with a new election machines vendor, Williamson County reported tabulation problems in a 2021 city election.

Allen said Hamilton County did not experience tabulation issues with the machines.

Contact Ben Sessoms at bsessoms@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.