A surge of new voters has led county officials to approve the purchase of seven new voting machines.

“Our county has been growing tremendously,” said Circuit Court Clerk Anita Wray, adding that the county has registered an additional 2,000 voters since Sept. 1.

Wray said over 2,100 absentee ballots were also cast in the most recent elections, held on Nov. 6. In total, over 39,000 voters from Madison County participated in last Tuesday’s midterm elections.

“So there’s a huge interest in voting and next year is going to be a busy election year, and then we have the presidential election coming up the following year,” Wray said.

The voting machines that were approved for purchase included five ballot scanners, known as DS200 machines, and two express voting machines, which are designed for handicapped voters.

“We do not want to be short on these scanners or have any issues,” Wray said.

DS200 voting machines are described as “a precinct-based scanner and vote tabulator” by ES&S, the firm that manufactures the systems.

Election Commissioner Pat Truesdale said bigger precincts sometimes require multiple ballot scanners and, with a new influx of voters, additional equipment may be needed.

“We’re at a point that, if something goes down, we’re going to be short of what we need for the runoff,” Truesdale said. “If something happens to one of the units now, we won’t have enough.”

Both Truesdale and Wray assured District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin that the voting machines would be in operation by the runoff election for U.S. Senate between Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy on Nov. 27.

Additionally, Truesdale said two Accuvote ballot machines were recently damaged in transport and election officials have been exploring options for how to repair the systems. She said the damaged machines will become the county’s backup machines when they are repaired.

The motion to approve the request for new voting machines was made by Griffin and seconded by District 4 Supervisor David Bishop. The measure passed with wide support.

The lone vote against the request, which totaled over $51,000, was cast by District 1 Supervisor Sheila Jones. She said she needed more information.