BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Clerk’s office is taking the new Express Vote machines on the road in the weeks leading up to the General Election to allow people in the county to try them out.
On Tuesday, Oct. 16, there will be a demonstration open to the public from 5-8 p.m. at the Event Center at Brushy Fork. Light refreshments will be served and the public will be able to try out the Express Vote machines and the new DS200 in which they put their ballot slip at the end of the voting experience.
Recently, county clerk Carol Smith brought two of the machines to Rock Cave for the monthly Southern Upshur Business Association meeting for a demo.
In April, the commission voted to go with the ExpressVote system from iVotronic and terminate the use of the optical voting scan system.
The new machines and the DS200 tabulator will streamline the election night counting but also help ensure voter confidence because voters can see who they voted for on the ballot that is printed out.
“It will have just the name of the people you are voting for,” she said.
The touch screen machines can be adjusted for those who need it larger at the touch of a button.
The new machines will also eliminate problems such as people marking the ballots improperly or voting for too many in a certain race.
“One race at a time will come up on the machine,” she said. “All you have to do is touch the selection you want “A lot of times with the paper ballots or the old optical scan ballots, if you voted for two - sometimes you would change your mind and then you would circle a third person.
“You couldn’t figure out what someone wanted to vote,” she said. “This new machine does not allow you to vote for more than what you are allowed.”
“When you get to the very end, it has each race with just the people you selected,” she said. “It will tell me if I forgot to vote for someone.”
The voter has the opportunity to go back and make any changes to their ballot before they print.
“Once I am satisfied, all I have to do is print the card,” she said. “Until you hit the print button, you can change your mind as many times as you want to. When the ballot comes out, you the voter are going to look at it and you are going to verify.”
“You will have a secrecy shield and you will take it over to the clerks who will tear off the stub at the bottom,” she said. “Your clerks will tear off the stub and give you a poll slip and then you get to go over to the DS 200. You will put it into the slot in the DS 200 and it will pop up a screen that says your vote has been counted.”
The process should also stream the ballot tabulating at the courthouse.
“At the end of the night, we have this big old machine that is running all these ballots,” she said. “We won’t do that any more. There is a thumbdrive in the DS200 that our poll workers will bring to us and we will put it into our election computer. It will tabulate it.
“If something fails electronically, if someone is questioning how it is reading, this is the piece of paper you can go back to, ‘she said. “It will make everything much smoother.
“The biggest difference now is that your ballot will be, technically, counted at your precinct,” she said. “However, until you close the machine, there are no totals that can be seen. It’s all secret until you close the machine.
“At 7:30 p.m. on election night, once all the polls close, we will then close the DS200 so that we can start putting them into the election night computer,” she said. Smith said absentee ballots will still be done on the optical scan ballots.
“The DS200 is designed to read either this type of ballot which they call an access card or it will read an optical scan ballot,” she said. “On election night, we will have a team of four people of opposite parties and they will actually open the envelopes and they will take another DS200 that is specifically for absentee ballots and read that into the machine, then we will close that and read them into the election night computer.”
SUBA member Mary Thorp, who has been a poll worker for Upshur County elections asked what happens when voters come to the polls without having been introduced to the new machine before.
Smith said that the poll workers play an important role by guiding the voter in the use of the machine.
“When we moved from the punch cards, we had the same problem,” she said. “It was you, the poll workers who guided the voters. We have instructions for you to hand out to guide them through it.”
Can’t make the demonstration? Stop by the county clerk’s office during regular business hours to demo the machines.
Oct. 16 is the last day to register to vote, transfer registration, change party affiliation or update voter information. Early voting at the courthouse will be held Oct. 24 through Nov. 3 during regular office hours 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 pm. On the two Saturday early voting dates.
On Election Day, Nov. 6, polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
As a reminder, an ID is needed to vote. See all acceptable forms of ID at www.upshurcounty.org under the county clerk’s tab.