Public can test new voting machines

Brittney Graham answers sample ballot questions as Chad Clingerman with Elkhart County voter registration talks her through the process.

ELKHART — Tuesday was the first of several chances over the next few days for voters to get familiar with new equipment being used this year.

The Elkhart County Election Board purchased a set of around 300 vote tabulators, which were first used during the municipal primary election in May. The new machines, which use a hybrid touchscreen and paper ballot system, were bought in order to get ahead of an expected state mandate on having a paper trail to make hand recounts possible.

Having a verifiable paper trail also lets voters themselves check a summary of their ballot selections before submitting it to be tabulated, voter outreach coordinator Kelsey McClure said.

County election officials wanted volunteers and voters to be well acquainted with the machines in time for the 2020 general election. Like the sessions held in spring, the public demonstrations scheduled for the next few weeks will let people get familiar with the equipment and run a sample ballot if they haven’t already, McClure said.

The first session Tuesday at the Elkhart Public Library coincided with National Voter Registration Day. A voter registration table was set up at the library in addition to the sample equipment.

Chad Clingerman, manager of elections and voter registration for Elkhart County, walked people through the process: sign in and get your paper ballot from the electronic poll book, then put the slip of paper in the voting machine and make your choices. Sample questions asked voters about their favorite breed of dog or favorite beach.

The ballot comes back out, completed, and is fed into another machine that tells you your vote has been counted. Clingerman said it’s not too different from the process used for the past five years, but without a reusable chip card.

Other upcoming sessions include:

n Today from 5 to 8 p.m. at Goshen Public Library, 601 S. 5th St.

n Thursday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Bristol Public Library, 505 W. Vistula St.

n Oct. 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Elkhart Public Library.

n Oct. 3 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Goshen Public Library.

n Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. James AME Church, 122 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, Elkhart.

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