Electorate checks out new voting machines

| 29 Sep 2011 | 08:31

DINGMAN - Dingman voters got a look at Pike County’s new voting machines Tuesday night. Candace May, director of the Pike County Board of Elections, was at the township supervisors meeting to do a “hands on” demonstration with anyone who wanted to try out the machine. There were several seniors who were eager to try it. To their surprise, after just one or two simple instructions from May they were able to use the machine easily. The new machines are not computers, although they seem to be very “computer-like.” When voters sign in at the voting place, May said, they will be given a plastic card to swipe in the voting machine like an ATM card. Touch the screen and it springs to life with instructions on how to begin. Follow the “next” buttons for candidates or propositions until a page is completed, when a touch on the “next” box brings up another series of choices. All the instructions and candidates can be displayed in large type just by touching the “large type” box on the screen. Touch the name of the candidate and an ”X” appears next to the name. If you make a mistake, you can touch the name again and the “X” is removed. Continue the touch procedure through the entire voting process. There is a touch screen keyboard in case you need to write in a candidate who is not on the list. “For blind voters, there is telephone-type keypad as most blind people can’t read Braille,” remarked May. At the end of the voting before the ballot is final, a screen appears that shows all the choices made. When all is correct, the last selection on the final screen casts the ballot. A printout from the machines is made at the start of the day so the election board personnel know the machine has no votes tallied on it. During the day the machine scrambles the order in which the votes were registered so no one knows who voted for whom. At the end of the election, another printout is made that resembles a supermarket register receipt with a tally of all the votes made for each candidate or proposition. “On the day of voting, we will have ‘rovers’ driving around to quickly get to any polling place in case a problem or question arises,” said May. If power goes out, the voting machines have a two-hour battery back-up. She did not speculate on whether the two-hour back-up would be adequate in Pike County. “Were they made in Florida?” queried town solicitor John Klemeyer, who got a smile and chuckle from everyone in attendance. In other business the supervisors: having received no bids at $12,000, decided to reduce the opening bid sale price for a 1996 Ford F350 to $10,000; decided to advertise for road line striping painting bids; heard Klemeyer suggest the township set up an “escrow fee account” to protect the township against one-shot corporations which allow developers to walk away from unpaid fees if a project goes bad and granted The Estates at Eagle Ridge a final extension for submitting their sewage planning module, with a May 2 deadline.