Though the November election is still months away preparations are already underway at the Grayson County Elections Administration Office.
Elections Administrator Deana Patterson said her staff spent this week training on the county’s new voting machines.
“There’s a lot of paper work and procedures that we’ll have to update,” she said Friday.
Back in April, county commissioners approved Patterson’s request to spend $1,287,234 for 250 ballot card markers and 40 scanners. That price tag did not include $209,490 for maintenance, $120,390 for hardware maintenance, $26,025 for the software license maintenance and support, or $63,075 for the firmware license and maintenance.
Still, Patterson said, the price is a good one when one considers the equipment could last 15 years or more. The machines that the county just trade in, she said, had a good shelf life for the county who received $147,100 in trade for its old IVotronic machines.
Patterson anticipates holding election worker training in September, and that will include training about 125 people over a two-week period.
“Then we are also going to have a media day,” she said explaining she will invite local media in to take pictures and film the machines in use.
The new system will include express vote ballot marking devices and will allow voters to make their candidate selections in a manner similar to the machines that have recently been in use in Grayson County. The new machines will then print out a paper ballot that will be reviewed by the voter and then placed by the voter in a scanner that will scan in the vote into that polling places’ votes tabulation.
The biggest change between the old system and the new one is the fact that the new one will have a voter verifiable paper trail.
“We are gonna call it a ballot card,” Patterson said. When the voter checks in at the electionronic pole book they get a ballot card. They will insert it in a machine that’s very similar to what they use now. But then once they finish (voting on) that machine, the card will be deposited in a scanner. So that’s the bigget difference, having that extra scanner where the voter will deposit their ballot card.”
While the voter won’t actually leave the poll with anything showing how they voted, they will get the opportunity, after they have marked their selections and the card has been printed, to review the card and make sure that the selections they wanted were marked.
Though that adds one step to the process of voting, Patterson said she didn’t think the changes will add any additional time to what is needed to count the ballots and post returns.
She said they have talked to a number of people at counties that have used the new machines in recent elections and she has heard nothing but good things from those folks.
“We’ve gotten nothing but great feedback from them. They’ve shared great information to make our path as easy as possible,” she said.
Jerrie Whiteley is the Criminal Justice Editor for the Herald Democrat. Contact her at JWhiteley@HeraldDemocrat.com or on Twitter @JLWhiteley.