Secretary of State Tom Schedler’s office began training parish election officials Monday on how to use new digitized absentee vote-counting machines that will be used for the first time in the Oct. 22 statewide elections. The state will be using new equipment to record absentee ballots in the Oct. 22 elections.
Commissioner of Elections Angie Rogers said the new machines will speed the process of counting absentee ballots by local officials on election night and will feed into the secretary of state’s system which also includes early voting and election day totals. Rogers said that the state bought 110 new scanners and updated its laptop computers with $2.5 million in federal Help America Vote Act dollars. She said no state money was used in the purchase.
Schedler spokesman Sailor Jackson said the 110 new scanners cost $440,000, while upgrades to the laptops, a new software program, and statewide training and support will cost $1.56 million of the federal grant.
Jackson said another $500,000 of the grant will go to link the new scanners with the hardware and software now in place to tally early voting and election day vote totals statewide when the polls close.
Voters who get the absentee ballots — such as military officials who are posted out of state or college students away at school — will see shorter ballots, “maybe one or two pages compared to the six or seven” that they may now receive, she said. “That means handling less paper and quicker counts” on election nights.