New Machines Make Debut In September GOP Primary
Published: August 25th, 2009
By: Tyler Murphy

New machines make debut in September GOP primary

NORWICH – Voters in Chenango County will be casting their ballots through a new electronic system being implemented across the nation as federal mandates compel state and county executives to utilize the more expensive digital devices, alleging that they are more comprehensive and accessible.

The Chenango County Board of Elections reports that in the coming Republican primaries, Sept. 15, and then in following general elections held Nov. 3, all polling stations in Chenango County will be outfitted with the new Dominion ImageCast optical-scan machines.

Republican Commissioner Harriet Jenkins explained that voters will be presented with paper ballots indicating the candidates in the election. Voters will mark the paper ballot themselves with a pen and then put it into the ImageCast machine, which will record and tally the marked votes.

The machines are capable of examining the ballot and locating inconsistencies, such as accidental double votes in the same category. The machine alerts the ballot’s caster to an “over vote” error and asks if they wish to proceed or if they wish to correct the issue.

The machines are also capable of detecting a “no vote” to any corresponding positions left blank. However, the New York State Board of Elections decided earlier this week not to activate the “no vote” alert.

The state board did not return comment by press time.

Jenkins explained that many Chenango County citizens often leave several position blank and prefer only to vote for specific offices exclusively, ignoring the rest of the ballot.

Jenkins also said some people have conveyed apprehension about the new system and are concerned the technology changes may complicate issues with voters.

“It’s actually a lot easier than people have perceived it to be,” she said.

Democratic Commissioner Carol A. Franklin agreed. “You just mark the paper ballot and put it into the machine. That’s it,” she said.

Election officials at the polling sites will be on hand to aid voters if there are any questions and back-up machines are also available in case there are any technical problems, explained Franklin.

The machines are also considered to be 100 percent accessible to persons with disabilities, something the former lever machines could not boast, said Jenkins.

“Any voter, no matter what needs, has to have the capability of getting to the voting place and able to vote unassisted,” she said.

The ImageCast machines instantly counts all the votes submitted to them and a paper receipt is created within the machine to validate the results in conjunction with the cast ballots being stored inside the device.

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