Generally, more people vote in primary elections than do in the constitutional amendment elections. For that reason, some voters who go to the polls in February and March may not have used the county’s new voting machines.

This will not be the first time the machines have been used, but is expected to be a continued test for them.

“The machines worked very well in the November 2019 election. They were popular with the workers and the voters,” said Grayson County Elections Administrator Deana Patterson.

“To cast a vote, the voter makes their ballot selections on the Express Vote Ballot Marking Device. The voter will then follow the prompts to print the ballot card and review the selections. Finally, the ballot card is scanned into the DS200 tabulator,” Patterson said. She said to make voting go even faster, voters should review the sample ballots available both in the Herald Democrat’s Voter’s Guide and on the county’s website.

The move toward the new machines started back in April of 2018 when 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 was a good one when one considers the equipment could last 15 years or more. The county received $147,100 in trade for its old IVotronic machines.

Patterson held election worker training in September of 2019, that included training about 125 people over a two-week period.

The new system includes 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.

That slip of paper will be called a ballot card. Patterson said that when the voter checks in at the electronic pole book they will 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 biggest 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.