New voting machines are a success

Voting went smoothly in Trumbull County during the May 7 primary election and in the weeks of early voting leading up to the election.

The successful and speedy Election Day process was due in large part to the addition of new voting machines that should create an extra sense of confidence for those participating and depending on the sacred process. By now, voters probably know the new machines created a paper record, coupled by computer-aided tallies.

Trumbull County voters found they now would vote on paper ballots, before feeding them into optical scanners where the votes were recorded.

The elections board purchased 150 of the scanners and 80 machines for visually impaired voters in February from Elections Systems and Software in Omaha, Neb., for $1.4 million.

The much-needed upgrade replaces the aging previous system. The former touchscreen system was 14 years old.

Not only does the updated system tally and record votes, but it also makes note of overvotes and even informs the voter before he or she walks away.

In instances where there is an overvote — that is, when more than the maximum votes are cast in one race — the voter was given the option to cast the ballot anyway, which, in that case, would void the overvote and record the rest of the ballot, or void the ballot entirely and get a new ballot from a poll worker.

At the end of this year’s primary election process, we heard no complaints from voters, and those tracking results throughout the evening found the accompanying new reports to be prompt and user friendly.

In fact, the results were so prompt that our newspaper was able to report winners with 100 percent of the vote counted by 9:30 p.m. — just two hours after the polls closed.

Perhaps some of the reason for the smooth operation can be attributed to advance planning, early training and even the fact that the first election in which the new machines were being used had a predictably low voter turnout.

Board of Elections officials were ahead of the game in introducing the system to the public in late March and in early April during a series of meetings across Trumbull County. Of course, every poll worker also was trained, helping bolster his / her confidence in the system.

All Trumbull County voters should also have confidence in the new system, which, it appears, is quite a success.

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