Like all the other counties in New York state, election commissioners and voting machine technicians were busy in Essex County Monday. They had to check out the 25 new electronic voting machines that will be used this fall. Many counties across the state held off going electronic until the machines presented fewer problems.
"There was over 7 or 800 glitches. They have that down to 148 now. They have to get rid of all the glitches before the state can certify the machines," explained Essex County Election Commissioner Lou Sanders.
With federal money, the county purchased 25 machines at $12,500 each. Everyone feels that the glitches will be fixed by the November election.
But this year only handicapped voters will be balloting on the electronic machines. This will allow time for the county election boards to become familiar with the new devices.
"We are doing an outreach program to let people play with them before the election, get familiar with them and have trained inspectors to work at each polling site," said Clinton County Deputy Commissioner Lois McShane.
The general public will be using the decades-old mechanical voting machine this year. On those, the voter pulls a lever for individual candidates. But no one makes these machines anymore as every state wants to go electronic.
Starting in 2009 everyone will be using this electronic model. The voter will be given a sheet of paper with the candidates names on it. The voter makes the next move.
"Check off what they want and scan it into this area here and then it will register and they will accept it if it is what their ballot is," explained machine custodian Larry Allen.
Technicians said that the scanning takes only 5 seconds.
The paper ballot the voter uses is stored in a safe area inside the voting machine in case a recount is needed.
No one is certain what will happen with the old mechanical machines. After 2009 they can not be used for any voting. They could wind up in a museum or on the scrap heap.
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