Big changes could be on the horizon at Arlington polling places in time for the 2016 presidential election. County election officials are considering scrapping their entire stock of voting machines, replacing them with new-generation equipment to the tune of about $1 million. “We don’t want to go with older technology,” Arlington Registrar Linda Lindberg said of the proposal to upgrade equipment. “We might as well just go whole-hog and replace the whole thing. We may not like it, but we’re going to have to do it.” Lindberg briefed Electoral Board members on Feb. 5, and will go before County Board members in March to detail the plan. If put into place, Arlington voters would see the demise of the popular touch-screen voting machines, which are being phased out statewide because they do not provide a paper trail to be used in case of recounts or malfunctions.
Arlington election officials prefer the option of those touch-screen machines. “We’re still not happy” with the state decision to scrap them, Electoral Board Chairman Charlene Bickford said.
County voters tend to agree: About 80 percent opt to cast ballots using what are known in the trade as “DREs,” even though alternative, paper-cast options are available.
Arlington officials aim to transfer to a new digital-scan system, where voters fill out a paper ballot that is fed into a scanner and records selections. If the ballot-reader notes any problems, the paper ballot is returned to the voter to be checked.