Voters may notice some changes when they go to vote in Tuesday's primary. New-style voting machines will be used throughout all of Erie county. The old lever-style machines that were used for decades have been scrapped, although the Board of Elections did save a few old machines for historical reasons.
Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr showed Eyewitness News a demonstration of the new machines. "In any direction you'd be able to feed the ballot in," explains Mohr, "It wouldn't matter which direction, just slide the ballot. The machine will take the ballot, scan, record the vote, take an image of the ballot and once the ballot has been tabulated it will let you know and your vote's been counted."
But before the high-tech scan, the process of marking the ballot is still old-fashioned. The voter is given a paper ballot and a pencil to color in bubbles. "They'll mark the ballot for the candidate of their selection," says Mohr.
Some voters though have complained that the small cardboard table dividers don't provide voters with enough privacy while they're marking their ballots. Mohr says the cardboard dividers were always a temporary solution and on this primary day the Board of Elections will be trying out some other methods to ensure privacy. "One is a plastic sleeve which will be sitting on a table which is much larger than this. Also we will have canvas booths in other districts that we'll be trying out to see voter familiarity and acceptance of those," says Mohr.
Although the votes will now be tabulated electronically, the paper ballots will still saved as a backup. "If the machine ever unexpectedly shuts down or there's a problem in the tabulation we'd always be able to go back to the paper and count the votes manually," explains Mohr.