It’s voting 2.0. This Election Day, Maine will roll out 428 new voting machines with digital scanners and stepped-up tech in 228 municipalities. Most voters will still exit their polling booths and head toward the ballot clerks, but now they’ll insert their paper ballot into a slot below a digital screen, pause, then get the machine’s OK to walk away. The devices are smart enough to detect too many votes — such as voting yes and no on Question 1 — as well as detecting questions with no responses. The machines will offer to kick those ballots back for do-overs. Seventeen new machines arrived in Lewiston in August inside locked, black cases that looked like something out of James Bond. Staff joked about needing launch codes. They’ve been tested and retested with dummy ballots. City Clerk Kathy Montejo anticipates a smooth day Tuesday. Lewiston is using machines to tally both state and local results. “The beauty of the machine is that it can be programmed to ignore other write-ins (that aren’t for pre-approved candidates),” she said. “Sometimes that would add an hour or two at the end of election night. The workers are extremely happy.”
Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn, who oversees the Bureau of Corporation, Elections and Commissions, said the state leased the 400 units for five years for $1.25 million. The money came from leftover federal funds in the Help America Vote Act.
Before that lease, 125 municipalities had already been using four different types of electronic ballot counters that they’d bought themselves.
“We’ve been thinking for the last few years we’d like to have uniform equipment,” Flynn said.
The machines were delivered this summer and the state supplied training. The DS200s are federally certified and used around the country, Flynn said.