Prince William County is on track with plans to replace its aging, touch-screen voting machines with a new system that uses paper ballots, election officials said Tuesday in a presentation to the Board of County Supervisors. The conversion to a paper ballot system is one of several measures the elections office is taking to reduce waiting times for voters, including investing in new technology to speed up the voter check-in process, officials said. Residents in some Prince William precincts have faced long lines in recent elections, such as in 2012, when voters at River Oaks Elementary School in Woodbridge had to wait for as long as four hours. Interim General Registrar Rokey Suleman said that Election Day backups typically occur at two “choke points” — during check-in and at the voting machines. “If you have four machines, you can only have four people voting at a time,” Suleman said.
Under the new system, there will be only one or two machines at each precinct, he said. “But the personal interaction with the machine is going to be seconds instead of minutes per voter,” he said.
“Voters are going to be able to fill out ballots . . . in private, and then walk over to the machine and feed” the ballot into the machine, Suleman said. “That’s going to decrease the lines significantly. “We’re still going to have a choke point at check-in,” he added.
Tony Giuffré, secretary of the county’s electoral board, said that the county has invested in new technology to speed up the voter check-in process, including scanners, new laptops for poll workers and election management software. The scanners will be used to read bar codes on newer driver’s licenses during check-in, which will save time and reduce errors, he said.