In accordance with the Federal Help America Vote Act (or HAVA as it is called), we are proud to announce that all future elections in Knox County will be conducted on modern voting equipment. These new systems will help to assure that more ballots are cast properly and that the elderly and handicap citizens will have an easier time voting.
The Latest in Voting Technology!
Starting with the General Primaries in March 2006, Knox County voters will have another choice when they go to vote. Now voters will be able to cast their ballot on a new touch screen voting machine. This new option will allow the voter to “see” their ballot, make their selections for candidates, and cast their vote all in one unit. There will no longer be a need to take a paper ballot to vote. This unit also has the option of an audio ballot which will allow voters to hear their choices and cast their vote without any assistance. Voters will be able to review their selections before they cast their ballot to assure that they are accurate.
How the System Works
The first system is called an Optical Scan System. The voter will now fill in an oval on a standard size paper ballot instead of punching the ballot card with a stylus. The ballot is then fed into a tabulating machine and verified as valid. If there was a problem with ballot, it would be rejected and allow the voter to correct any errors before casting it again. The system will even be able to read ballots that were not marked in “exactly” the right spot. Any standard pen or pencil mark close to the oval will be registered as a vote for that candidate. Only the voter will touch the ballot from the time it is completed until it is counted.
The second system is called a touch screen system. It works similar to the touch screen directories at a mall where you touch the location you want to see. This system allows you to cast your vote by touching a square next to the candidates name. The system will prevent you from voting for too many candidates for a office and allows you to go back and change a vote that you previously selected. You also have the options of increasing the size of print on the screen or hearing the ballot read to you over a set of headphones. The accessibility of this system will allow voters that had to have assistance voting before to be able to cast their votes in private.
Improvements over Punch Card
The Optical Scan and Touch Screen systems have many advantages over the old punch card voting system.
- Straight-forward and easy to understand name on the ballot instead of a punch number.
- It will be easier to see which candidate you are voting for
- Will do away with the flipping of multiple ballot pages while in the voting booth.
- You can view your final decisions before casting your vote in the tabulating unit.
- Voting on regular size paper ballot.
- Ballots are processed immediately in the polling place and will speed up the tabulation of results at the end of the day.
- Over votes and other problems with ballot completion will be identified right away and the voter will be allowed to correct the mistake.
- Voting can take place even if the recording unit breaks down.
Assistance for the Special Needs Voter
The Optical Scan system of voting will be a great improvement for voters with special needs. Ballots can be viewed without the need of a vote recorder device and stylus. No more small holes to try and punch. No more “hanging or dimpled chads” from the punch card stylus. Voters will now be able to sit in a chair and vote with just a pen and ballot. The Touch Screen units will allow voters to cast their ballots without the need of an assistant or aid. The audio option for the Touch Screen will allow a voter to hear the ballot choices and cast their votes with ease and assurance. As always, we will supply magnifying sheets and other aids to help with voters special needs. As monies become available from the Federal government and other sources, more improvements will be made to make voting easier for all those who wish to participate.