By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer
Roosevelt County voters will have the opportunity to try out the new federally-funded voting machines in the upcoming General Election Nov. 7.
According to Roosevelt County Clerk Janet Collins, the machines have been provided to the county through the federal Help America Vote Act.
The state legislature also passed a law that required all the counties in the state to be on the same kind of compatible system, said Collins.
The AutoMark machine is used as a marking device for ballots, said Collins. It is not used to count votes or voters, said Collins. The machine can be used by anyone, but is designed for those who may need assistance. Voters have the option to use the machine or mark their ballots by hand, said Collins.
“It’s only a machine that marks your ballot for you,” Collins said.
Designed with special features, the machine will allow someone with a physical or visual impairment to vote, said Collins. The machines are equipped with headphones that a voter can put on to guide the person through the ballot audibly. Other features on the machine include Braille readouts, a plug-in for people that use the sip and puff method, and buttons that can enlarge the print on the screen, said the clerk.
The M-100 optical scan machine is similar to machines that have been previously used, said Collins. After marking their ballot, voters place it in the machine where it is scanned and the votes are read. A unique feature of the machine is that it reads the ballot and if it finds a discrepancy, it will kick the ballot back out, said Collins.
“This gives you a second chance, so your vote counts,” said Collins. “It’s a good system.”
The county has been able to save money this election, said Collins. The machines were funded through the federal government, therefore saving the county money, said Collins. In the past, voting machines had to be leased or bought, said Collins. Another first, is that the state has agreed to pay for part of the ballot printing costs, said Collins.
“It’s a substantial savings to us,” said Collins.
Roosevelt County is a little ahead of the game when it comes to using a paper ballot system. For close to 20 years, the county has been using this type of system, said Collins. Many other counties in the state are just now going to this system, she said.
“It’s the ultimate paper trail,” said Collins. “It is the one that is most secretive and secure for the voters.”