While issues like early voting, voter registration and voter ID have certainly grabbed the headlines of late, another elections issue will literally be in front thousands of voters in 2016 — new voting systems. Nationwide many states and counties are moving to new voting systems for the first time in more than a decade in advance of the 2016 election cycle. For some jurisdictions the switch to a new voting system was mandated by state legislatures that wanted to move to paper-based systems. For others, it’s a matter of age. Many states and counties replaced their voting machines following the 2002 election and in a world where people replace their phones every two years and personal computers almost as frequently, 10+-year old voting machines are, well, old. Although budgeting and procurement are certainly taking center stage now, soon enough it will be training and voter education. It’s a lot to get done with an election calendar that grows shorter as more and more states jockey for position with their elections calendars.
In Maryland, which has been DRE (direct recording electronic, aka “touchscreen”) statewide since 2006, all 23 counties and Baltimore City are now moving to a paper-based optical scan system which was legislated by the General Assembly in 2007, but not funded until 2014. The state has entered into a $28.1 million leasing agreement with ES&S that includes precinct-based scanners, ballot marking devices, high-speed scanners and personnel support.
… With potentially thousands, even millions of first time and “casual” voters will hit the polls in 2016 and what impact new technology will have on a smooth Election Day experience, not only for voters, but also poll workers and election officials remains to be seen.
“Although some jurisdictions will be deploying new voting systems for the first time in a decade or more, it’s useful to remember that every election brings new voters,” said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting. “They face a voting system they have never used before because they are new to the process, not because the equipment is new to the polling place.”
Smith said, good plain-language instructions can help, as well as a video walk-through of the process posted at the elections website and on social media. She cited Orange County, California’s Facebook page as a good example of a good way to use social media.
Full Article: electionlineWeekly.