County Comment/Touch Screen Voting Coming To County

by Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

Washington County’s Board of County Commissioners got the chance to try out new high-tech voting machines at its December 2nd, 2003 meeting. Elections Board President Charles Mobley and Chris Hood of the Diebold Company brought the report to the Board. The state has mandated a change in voting machines, from pencil and paper balloting systems to those with touch screen technology. Voters are issued cards about the size of credit cards that are inserted into the machine. A series of steps appears on the screen, and voters follow the steps, touching a ballot on the screen to register a vote.

The machines provide better access for persons with disabilities, especially those who are blind. A touch-pad is connected to a listening device, which offers voice-prompts to facilitate the voting process.

Hood told the Board that the machines are so flexible, Washington County voters can cast ballots in any County in the state, and the vote will be counted at home. A review of the machines took place at the state level, and some aspects of the operating system were changed. Hackers cannot get into the system, because machines are not connected to phone lines until after ballots have been counted, Hood said.

Four hundred and eighty-eight machines are on hand in Washington County now, one for every 200 voters.

Citizens can try out the new voting system and get further information at the Board of Elections office at 35 West Washington Street in Hagerstown.