By VANESSA McGUIGAN
The Shepherdstown Chronicle
SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Shepherdstown Area Independent Living (SAIL) welcomed Chris Kinsella from the Jefferson County League of Women Voters and Nikki Painter, Chief Deputy Clerk, Voter and Elections of Jefferson County to their monthly brown bag lunch event to discuss voting and demonstrate a new electronic voting machine.
Although Jefferson County purchased the new touchscreen voting equipment two years ago, the county was mid election cycle and didn’t want to change machines to avoid confusion. The purchase, which came in at a price tag of nearly $1 million replaces the outdated previous equipment. Starting with the 2018 election, Jefferson County will begin using the ADA compliant ExpressVote and DS200 ballot box.
“A misconception about the machine is that it is just a touchscreen – you don’t have a paper trail,” Painter said. “You will actually have a ballot in your hand, put it into the machine and you will vote – just like if you go to Sheetz and order a sub or if you have a touchscreen phone – and it will print out exactly what you have voted. It’s very user-friendly.
Voters will make their selections via the touchscreen, using the “previous” and “next” buttons to navigate through each race, and will view a summary screen before confirming their votes. There will also be options for writing in candidates. Selections will be printed out on a piece of paper and inserted into a secrecy sleeve before being deposited into a ballot box as in previous elections.
Due to the ADA compliance of the voting machines, Painter said people with visual impairments or other special needs should be able to vote independently.
“Some people had concerns about this machine being able to be hacked into,” Painter said. “This machine is not online and does not have online capabilities; at no point does it touch the internet. It has a paper trail and our electronic ballot boxes are the same way – they don’t touch the internet. Our computer that takes the results in is also not on the internet. It is in a locked cabinet and we have to use an encrypted jump drive to get the results off. There are several steps in there that prevent us from being hacked.”
Jefferson County currently has over 38,000 registered voters after several hundred were purged due to death or moving. Shepherdstown typically has the highest voter turnout in the county.
Voter information including change of address or change of party affiliation can be completed online at the Secretary of State’s website, sos.wv.gov. For more information about the new voting machines, visit jeffersoncountywv.org.
See more from The Shepherdstown Chronicle