When residents headed to the polls to cast their vote in the 2012 Primary election on Saturday, some used an option that they had not had for a number of years: paper ballots. In April, the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee amended and passed the bill to allow for the use of paper ballots. The paper ballots bill, sponsored by Sen. Neville James and co-sponsored by Sen. Celestino White Sr., allowed voters to choose whether they wanted to vote by machine or by paper ballot. As written, it also requires that all paper ballots be counted after the closing of the polls, at the same time that electronic ballots are counted on election night. The move to give residents the option of using paper ballots was prompted by a group of voters who complained that the use of the electronic voting machines opened the door for manipulation and tampering of a person’s vote. They also said that there has been documented instances where the voting machines have failed and a voter’s vote may not have been registered.
Judges reported an average of 16 voters used paper ballots at each site. Judges said the number of paper ballots used was consistent with the number of people who had tried to use provisional ballots last election. At the poll sites, large plastic bins marked for “good ballots” or “spoiled ballots” were receptacles for the paper ballots. Rosa Soto Thomas, judge for the Evelyn Williams polling site, said there were no concerns about the use of the machines, and voters were advised of their choice to make an electronic or paper ballot vote.