Many Delaware County voters will use new voting machines for the first time Nov. 5.
The new machines were in place for the May 2019 primary election, but county board of elections officials anticipate a much larger turnout this fall as compared to the spring primary, which featured contested races for Republicans only.
Manufactured by Unisyn, the new machines cost $4.2 million, director Karla Herron said, with about $1.9 million authorized by state legislation to help county boards of elections and the balance from the county.
Delaware is one of eight Ohio counties now using this type of machine, Herron said.
She said the old system was accurate, but the removable discs it used are no longer manufactured.
The elections board started work about 18 months ago toward selecting a new system, she said.
While the previous technology had not failed nor caused any problems in voting or tabulating, it was important to stay ahead of the technology, said assistant director Anthony Saadey.
“The old machines had been in use for 12 years,” Saadey said, “and we wanted to be ahead of the curve as that technology became antiquated.”
The former machines allowed voters to confirm their selections by touching a screen as a final step in the process, Herron said.
The votes were printed onto a roll of paper on the side of the machine, which she said many voters might not have noticed.
With the new system, a summary is printed on a separate piece of paper after each voter’s selections are completed, she said, and voters can confirm their votes were accurately recorded by looking at the paper.
If the paper shows an error, the voter can notify a poll worker, Herron said. The voter can confirm the paper is correct before it is scanned into a tabulator, she said.
The new system also is expected to speed things up after the polls close, Herron said.
With the old system, election workers had to deal with up to 40 machines that recorded votes at a single polling place, she said.
When the polls close now, she said, no polling place has more than four tabulators that record all the votes.
Saadey said the paper records will be stored in case a recount is required.
“We hope people will like the ease and the security,” Saadey said. “To be able to hold a physical paper ballot should give them peace of mind.”
Poll worker coordinator Ali Solove said the new technology received positive reviews from poll workers in the spring.
“Poll workers are voters, too,” she said. “They have found the new machines very easy to use.”
Still, the board of elections looks to ensure there are plenty of workers at each of the 165 precinct locations in the county Nov. 5. Poll workers can earn $155 to $190 for the day and must attend a training session. High school seniors who are 17 or older also can work the polls.
Anyone interested should email Solove, who is the Republican poll worker coordinator, at email@example.com, or Amy Murphy, the Democrat poll worker coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The timing of the purchase of the new machines was in large part due to the availability of state funds, Herron said, although the ability to use the technology several times prior to the 2020 presidential election should help facilitate what is expected to be a high voter turnout.
Registration to vote Nov. 5 is open through Oct. 7. The board of elections will remain open until 9 p.m., and voters also may register online through midnight on that date.
Oct. 8 is the first day of in-person absentee voting.
For more information about the Nov. 5 election and registration, visit boardofelections.co.delaware.oh.us.