Generating enthusiasm about the upcoming U. S. Congressional District Four Primary Election may seem difficult, but a trip to the polls next Tuesday (June 7) will provide an excellent opportunity to try out the county’s new voting machines.
This coming Saturday, June 4, is the last opportunity for absentee voting. Persons who will not be in the county on Tuesday, June 7, may vote absentee, according to Circuit Clerk Chad Welford. The Circuit Clerk’s office will be open for absentee voting on Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon.
Next Tuesday the polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
The new voting machines will be in use.
Welford said the voting process will be very simple. The voter will show his or her I.D., checked against the voter roll for that precinct, and handed a paper ballot. They will mark the ballot in the voting booth and then carry it to the scanner where it will be scanned and the ballot dropped into a secure bin.
Unlike the paper ballots of the past, the scanner is programmed to recognize if the ballot is under voted or over voted or improperly marked. The voter will have the opportunity to have what might have otherwise been a spoiled ballot returned to him so a new one can be requested.
The scanners are all stand-alone machines and at the end of the day, the tabulations of votes cast are collected on thumb drives and taken to the courthouse for final count. The paper ballots are kept locked in the bin unless a problem is suspected. The paper ballots are then available for hand counting.
State law requires the equipment may not be wifi capable and security is maintained to make sure the machines cannot be hacked.
Welford said each precinct will also have special touch screen equipment available for vision impaired or disabled voters.
One of the machines has been set up in the Circuit Clerk’s office for people to see and practice.