Digital voting machines arrive in Schenectady County

In the upcoming board of educations elections throughout the county on May 18, residents will be introduced to the first large scale use of electronic voting machines across the county.

The machines, which will take place of lever machines that have been used across the state for decades, will give election officials three distinct ways to count and record votes, which they hope will allow for more accurate results.

\It was very common that we would have lever machine breakdowns during the elections, said Democratic Commissioner of the Schenectady County Board of Elections Brian Quail. The commissioner said that in the past, with the lever machines, breakdowns during the day would be fixable, but slows down voting at the location of the breakdown. He also said that issues with the tumblers on lever machines cause votes to be lost in rare occasions. The two times that it has happened in Schenectady County, they have been non-outcome determinative, but the old system is antiquated and flawed in receiving votes.

"We've seen at least twice that this has happened and people's votes have been lost and that's unacceptable," said Quail.

the new system will incorporate paper ballots, printed at the board of elections, that have bubbled in spaces for each listed candidate, with spaces below for write-in candidates as well. The page is then scanned into the machine, with the vote recognized for each candidate and proposition. The answers on the paper are recorded by the machine and on a small flash drive connected to the machine. The paper ballot itself then goes into a lock box at the bottom of the machine and are retrieved at the end of the night for verification of the votes with the machine. In the case of a power outage, the voting machine has a two hour battery life and paper ballots can still be fed into the machine and manually counted by election workers. A receipt at the end of the night is also collected from the machine which tallies the overall vote count at each voting center.

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