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Monday, April 29, 2019

Sneak peek at Union County's new voting machine

First Ward Councilor Ashley Davis tried her hand
at the new machine...

... as did Wards 1/4 at-large Councilor Barry Goode.

Plainfield residents who attended Councilor Davis' First Ward Meet-and-Greet on Thursday (April 25) got a sneak peek at Union County's new voting machine.

The new voting machine, from manufacturer ES&S, will debut at the June 4 primary in the November general election.
After years of prodding by voting security experts, followed by a 2-year focus by Special Prosecutor Bob Mueller on Russian interference with the 2016 election (yes, there was -- massive), New Jersey finally decided to go with a verifiable paper trail.

This aligns New Jersey with many other states who have ditched all-digital voting in favor of retaining a paper ballot -- verified by the voter -- to speed up recounts (when needed) and as proof that machine totals have not been manipulated.

Representatives of the County Board of Elections were on hand for the event to show interested voters how the new system works.


The screen will be familiar; what will not is having
separate screens for each party.

The new machines come with separate screens for Democratic and Republican primary voters. This means a poll worker will take your blue (or pink) slip and accompany you into the booth to pull up the appropriate screen for you, depending on your party registration.

Once the screen is displayed, the poll worker will insert a blank ballot paper into the box attached to the voting machine. (This box will securely store all the paper ballots for that machine, in the order cast.)

The screen will be just like the ones with which we are familiar. Votes are indicated by clicking on the check box next to a candidate's name.

When the voter is satisfied they have voted for all those they intend to, he or she pushes the "VOTE" button at the bottom right of the screen.


This is what the paper ballot will look like in the
inspection window. (I punched items at random,
thus showing several items as 'no selection'.)

Once the paper ballot is confirmed, pushing the "Cast"
button whisks it away to secure storage.

Upon pushing the "VOTE" button, two things happen.

First, the machine prints your ballot on the blank ballot form that was previously inserted into the machine and displays it in the window so you can verify your choices are registered correctly.

Second, a small window replaces the voting screen. Once you have reviewed your ballot and confirmed it is correct, you tap "Cast" and your paper ballot is whisked away to the storage container.

If, however, you decided that the paper ballot does not reflect your choices, you may tap "Quit" and ask for a new ballot to vote over. The previous ballot will not be counted.

Once you have cast your ballot, you are finished.

There will be special training for poll workers as this is a completely new routine, and my guess is that the polls may run a bit slow until everyone gets the hang of it.

But this will be a much better and more secure voting method that we have known ever since the digital machines were introduced.

I'm looking forward to it.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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