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New voting machines available for demonstrations

Posted on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 7:04 pm

IMG_0027 vote mach for web

BOWLING GREEN—Caroline County’s new paper ballot voting machines have arrived and are available for demonstrations.

The new machines will be used for the first time on Nov. 5 during the gubernatorial election. That ballot will have a question asking voters if they think the county should borrow $26 million to upgrade Caroline High School and Madison Elementary School.

Danette H. Moen, Caroline’s general registrar, said she and the Caroline Electoral Board  are available to take the machines to churches and civic organizations to give demonstrations.

Moen said they prefer to have audiences of eight or more at churches or civic organizations. Call Moen’s staff at 804-633-9083 to make an appointment for on-site demonstrations or to receive a demonstration at the registrar’s office at 212 North Main St.

The new machines are Dominion Voting ICP optical scan machines. Each voter will be handed a paper ballot with the names of each candidate beside an oval-shaped box the size of a pencil eraser. The voter will use a marker to color in the box and will then insert the 8.5 by 11 inch ballet into the voting machine.

The voting machine can correctly record the vote even if the ballot is placed in the slot face up, face down, bottom in first or top in first, Moen noted.

All the usual procedures will be followed on election day: Voters will go to the polling place listed on their voter card. He or she will present the required identification to the pollbook officer of election. The officer will then hand the voter a paper ballot. There will be tables set up for those wanting to sit down to fill out the ballot.

After the voter finishes filling out the ballot, he will take it to the voting machine and insert it in the top of the machine. The voting machine will pull in the ballot. If the voter goofed and voted for more than the requested number of candidates per race, the machine will return the ballot to the voter. The voter will have the opportunity to vote the ballot as it is or to give the ballot to an officer of election to receive a new blank ballot to make the correction. The voter will have to give the officer of election the used ballot to get a new blank ballot. No one will be allowed to vote more than one ballot.

These machines have an attachment that meets requirements of the Americans with Disability Act. It looks like a video game controller. It can be used by blind voters or others. The voter using this option will make choices using the hand-held device. A paper ballot will be printed using one of the random fonts resembling a hand printed ballot. That ballot will then be entered into the voting machine. An officer of election will monitor the machine to give assistance when necessary.

Based on a directive from the Virginia General Assembly, the Virginia Board of Elections is asking all localities to transition to voting machines that use a paper ballot in time for the 2016 presidential election.

“Through lengthy research, the Caroline County Electoral Board chose to use the Dominion Voting ICP for our elections,” Moen said. “It is scanning machine, that following the filling out of the ballots, would be scanned  in approximately 7 seconds.  In lieu of people standing in line to use a touch screen voting machine, now the voters could come into their poling places, and at tables with privacy screens, fill out their ballots and then place them, with an attendant present, in the Optical Scan Machine.”

The Caroline County Board of Supervisors gave the Electoral Board permission to buy  new voting machines. The cost of the machines to Caroline is one payment of $50,763. That is the cost after a $10,000 discount to the county because the county allowed Dominion Voting to use two Caroline precincts in the certification process for the State Board of Elections during the June primary.