Voting machines produce paper ballots

Published 9:33 am Thursday, February 20, 2020

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Voters casting a ballot for the May 3 primary will see little changes in how they vote, although they will be on new machines that produce a paper trail.

Because of a new state law, all counties must have a system that includes paper ballots.

Davie’s new machines are much like the ones once used, only these produce a completed paper ballot for the voter to confirm before putting it into a scanner to be read and tabulated. That way, if there is a problem or concern, or a race too close to call, there will be a paper trail – meaning a second count of the paper ballots can be completed.

“The voting experience is very much the same, because it’s still touch screen,” said Tabatha Parrish, elections director.

The results are not stored in the machine as before, when you would push the “vote” button to cast a ballot. Now, you push a “print” button to print your results.

Parrish said the office chose this method in part because there is no need to pay for printed paper ballots each election. These results are printed onto plain, white card stock – much less expensive than printing paper ballots for 110 percent of elected voters at each election.

The new machines were tested during the Bermuda Run municipal elections last year. “The voters loved it,” Parrish said. “The precinct workers loved it.”

She thinks final results will also be announced more quickly with the new method. The machines were approved by the Board of Elections, including Gary Le Blanc, Rob Raisbeck, Luther Potts, Faye Carter and Selma Suiter.

Election officials statewide offer “talking points” about election security in the state, including the fact that no election or voting system in the state has ever been the target of a successful cyber attack. Any machine used cannot be connected to the internet, reducing the risks for cyber interference.

Early voting has started, with 203 Davie residents casting a ballot on opening day. Polls at each precinct will be open on March 3, the official election day.

Davie County is divided into 14 precincts, with Smith Grove being the largest with 3,583 voters, followed by Hillsdale with 3,169, Clarksville with 2,557, East Shady Grove with 2,448, Farmington with 2,398, North Mocksville City with 2,323, South Mocksville with 2,241, North Mocksville County with 2,147, Cooleemee with 1,783, Jerusalem with 1,673, West Shady Grove with 1,651, Fulton with 1,592, North Calahaln with 1,059 and South Calahaln with 1,054.

There are a total of 29,678 registered voters in Davie County, 15,214 Republican, 9,311 Unaffiliated and 4,999 Democrat. There are 1,860 black voters, 25,568 white voters; 15,118 are females and 13,557 are males.