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'It’s a pretty simple process'

Alex Doty • Jul 26, 2017 at 12:00 PM

WEST OLIVE — Ottawa County elections officials on Tuesday gave a brief rundown on how to use the new voting machines that will be rolled out beginning with the Aug. 8 primary election.

County Elections Coordinator Steve Daitch said that for the most part, the process for voting is going to be pretty much the same for voters, but noted that the equipment will be little bit easier to use.

“Voters are still going to fill out a paper ballot, and they’re still going to put their paper ballot in the tabulator,” Daitch explained during a demonstration at the county clerk’s office. “There’s an American flag that pops up that tells you your vote has been counted, and then that’s it. It’s a pretty simple process.”

Voters with disabilities will also have a new piece of technology at their disposal via the Touch Writer, a ballot-marking machine with a touch screen and other controls.

Daitch said there are a number of features that make the machine useful for a variety of people.

“You can do things like make the text size larger, or just listen to an entirely audio ballot,” he said. “They can (mark a ballot) on the touch screen, or if they’re listening to the audio, they can use a click wheel.”

To get a ballot on this machine, Daitch said a precinct worker will need to assign voters a special code to ensure that only one ballot is issued per voter.

“All of this is auditable so we know who has done what,” he said.

Once voters have selected their choices on the Touch Writer, the machine creates a printout of the completed ballot, which is then fed into the tabulation machine.

One thing voters may notice this year is a slight change to the ballot design.

“It follows some design standards from the Brennan Center,” Daitch said. “It’s a little bit more intuitive to fill out, and the candidate lists look like a check list. It’s a little bit easier to see where your mark is going.”

Instead of ovals, the new ballots have square boxes for marking a candidate or proposal.

Election officials say once it’s time to submit ballots into the tabulator, voters will have better feedback about whether their ballot could be read, or if there were issues reading it, or multiple votes were selected for a single candidate or issue.

“You can either pull it out and spoil your ballot, and be reissued a new ballot, or you can feed it back in and cast it as-is,” Daitch said.

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