PREBLE COUNTY — Preble County Board of Elections held an open house on Monday, Oct. 7, so voters could test out the new voting equipment before the election officially begins.
“We wanted people to get a look at the new voting equipment. We also invited poll workers to come in, that will be working this location. We had a mock election with it, so they got the chance to operate it like they were really voting,” BOE Director Terri Hans said. “We wanted them to see this new voting equipment in action, instead of us just demonstrating it and telling them how it is going to work.”
The PC Board of Elections was awarded funds through the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to purchase new voting equipment. The county did not have to match funds and the State of Ohio owns the equipment. Preble County will be responsible for insurance and maintenance.
The DS200s are the optical scanners to replace the old M100. There are tabulators in each of the polling locations. When submitted to the machine, they will take a picture of each ballot and give the voter an option to edit his or her vote.
If there are any questions about the votes with the new software, the BOE can pull up the ballots and look at the individual markings for an issue or candidate.
“In case there are any questions about if it counted a ballot. That is the board’s decision. We don’t have many of those, but it is an extra opportunity to look at candidates’ votes,” Hans said.
Preble County Board of Elections also purchased ExpressVote, which is ADA-compliant marking equipment. A piece of paper the same length of the ballot will be inserted into the machine, the poll worker will choose the type of ballot, and the voter will operate the machine as a touch screen.
Once the vote is completed, it will go to a verification results screen, so the voter can check his or her votes to make sure it is correct. If it is, the card will print with the voter’s choices. From there, the paper is run through the tabulator so the votes get counted.
ExpressVote also has a headphone set to be accessible to all voters.
Hans added, the majority of voters present during early voting have used the ExpressVote.
“They are loving it. Anybody can use it, you don’t have to be any disability,” she said.
ExpressVotes will be available in all voting locations. If it is a single precinct location, there will be only one ExpressVote. If it is a location with more than one precinct, it will have two ExpressVotes.
The total cost of purchase was $532,658.75, while the BOE was allotted $577,725.70. The Preble County Board of Elections is hoping to purchase additional equipment with the money left over.
Hans added, the new equipment is very secure.
“Any voting equipment that will be used on the polling days in this office has not had any internet or WiFi on it,” she said.
Deputy Director Buffy Allison added, “With anything new, I don’t care what age group you are in, an individual may be hesitant on using it. The ExpessVote is quite simple. If you can read the screen or have the screen read to you, it is extremely easy to use. It is a little faster. You don’t have to stand there and darken an oval.”
To send results to the State of Ohio, a one-time use secure flash drive is utilized. Voting equipment is not connected to the internet in any way, making voting secure and safe.
Allison wants to remind anyone who has recently changed his or her address, if their Driver’s License does not have a current address on it, he or she will need to bring a supporting document (such a pay-stub or utility bill) to the polling location. They will not have to vote provisionally and will save the poll worker time.
“Get out and vote,” Hans said. “We’re voting on villages, council seats, mayors, City of Eaton — there are four county issues on the ballot.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH