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Changes made for voting

By Staff, 10/22/18 2:58 PM

PRESCOTT – When voters go to the polls on Nov. 6, they’ll be using new voting machines to cast their ballots.

At first it may seem confusing, but it’s a simplified process made entirely digital – except for absentee and provisional voting, which will be done with paper ballots. There are no more physical poll books to be checked, but voters need to take a photo ID and make sure the address on their ID matches the address for the electronic poll books. If the addresses don’t match, the person in question will have to use a paper ballot.

The process, according to Ricky Reyenga, goes like this: a person comes in to vote. They show a photo ID and have their name checked on the express book (the new term for the electronic polling book). If the addresses match, they’re given a slip of paper roughly three-inches wide by about 15-inches (the ballot, which contains a bar code) long and are sent to a voting booth. Here, he said, they slip their “ballot” into the voting machine and it displays all the pertinent information for the election – who’s running for what office and what, if any, amendments and issues are to be voted on. Voting is done by touch screen, but voters need to pay attention, especially to the constitutional amendments proposed, as they’ll have to advance the screen a few times. Once done, their votes are shown on screen. If they agree, they remove the ballot and take it to a scanner, where their votes are counted.

The biggest difference, he said, is voters can change their ballots up until they’re placed in the scanner, at which time their votes are finalized. The scanner, he added, writes the votes to a secure USB drive, which must be loaded before voting begins. This drive will be removed at the end of election day and be the only thing brought from the different polling places to the courthouse to be tallied up.

Reyenga said all the voting machines will be delivered prior to the election and picked up afterwards, but the only thing poll workers will remove will be the USB drive. He added, it doesn’t matter where a person lives within the county anymore because this new system will allow them to cast their ballots anywhere in the county – as long as their addresses link up.

There will be wireless hot spots should there be problems with an address. Should this occur, the county clerk would be called, the address updated and the voter can cast their ballot. However, he pointed out, there are some areas of the county this won’t work because there’s no service for the hot spot.

He stressed the importance of people checking with the clerk’s office to make sure they have the correct address listed for their voting record.

Early voting began Monday morning and will end Nov. 5. Voters can cast their ballots early, from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday until Nov. 5, and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday before the election.