Bureau of Election Manager Gloria A. Maestas feeds a sample ballot into the County’s new voting machine during a demonstration Wednesday afternoon at the Municiapl Building. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Staff members at the Los Alamos County Clerk’s Office are eager to demonstrate their new voting machines, which they will have at Ashley Pond Park following Saturday’s Fair and Rodeo Parade.
“We really want folks … youngsters, too … to check out the machines on Saturday and use the ‘ice cream ballot’, it will be good practice for us, too,” County Clerk Sharon Stover said during an interview Wednesday with the Los Alamos Daily Post. “We are happy to receive these new machines because they are a higher quality, more advanced technology and users should find the screen easier to read.”
The new machine tabulators have bigger screens that make it easier to tell that the ballot has been accepted successfully by viewing the counter number, she said, and dings when the ballot is accepted. The machine also provides wider and easier to read results tapes.
Los Alamos Bureau of Election Manager Gloria A. Maestas explained that New Mexico’s Secretary of State Dianna Duran lobbied the legislature in 2013 and received a $6 million allocation in general funds and $1 million from the information technology fund to purchase new machines for the first five counties: Bernalillo, Doña Ana, San Juan, Sandoval and Valencia.
Those counties used the Dominion ImageCast Evolution (ICE) machines in the 2013 Primary Election. Duran requested an additional $6 million allocation from the 2014 legislature to upgrade the entire state before the upcoming Nov. 4 General Election.
Los Alamos County was able to acquire an ImageCast Central (ICC) machine to use for absentee by mail ballots, specifically mail out elections, Maestas said. The ICC is a commercial scanner that can process up to 130 ballots per minute. The ICE machines have the capability to accept ballots with over votes or no votes, although the Secretary of State will decide whether that functionality will be turned on. Whether that functionality it turned on or not, Maestas said that as in the past, a voter who has over voted or mismarked their ballot, will have an opportunity to be re-issued a replacement ballot.
“Come out to the Fair on Saturday and try out the new machine. We will have our demonstration or ‘ice cream’ ballots available for the public to test out the new Dominion ICE voting machines,” Stover said. “We decided to unveil the new machines at the Fair to Los Alamos citizens young and old, and allow staff to become familiar with these new machines at the same time. Staff will then train all the poll workers in using these new machines and make sure they are comfortable with them.”
Ballots for the new voting machines must be marked with Sharpies.
Maestas added that voters won’t notice too much of a difference in the new voting machines, as they remain paper ballots with optical scan tabulators. The ballots do need to be marked with Sharpies, which will be available at each voting center, she said.
New Voting Machine Features:
- Accessible, audio-visual ballot marking interface, supporting a range of assistive input devices, including an Audio-Tactile Interface, sip & puff or paddles;
- High resolution scanning technology:
- Automatic detection of fraudulent ballots
- Ultrasonic multi-feed detector that prevents the device from accepting more than one ballot at a time
- Ballot scanning and tabulation, ballot review and second chance voting, as well as ballot marking functionality – all in one device to allow “no-touch” accessible voting
- Dual, removable commercial memory cards for redundancy
- Internal diverter for simplified ballot sorting
- All in one tabulator and accessible ballot marking device;
- A single unit to service all voters, featuring an integrated printer for ballot marking;
- Randomized oval marking patterns and writing make the machine-marked ballots indistinguishable from hand-marked ballots, ensuring voter privacy;
- Integrated privacy shield and screen cover; and
- Multi-lingual audio-visual support for all voters.
As was the case in the 2013 Primary Election, Stover will have electronic election night reporting available in the Los Alamos County Council Chambers and available on the County’s website.
Also new this year, the Secretary of State upgraded her election night reporting statewide to IRIS, the Integrated Reporting and Integrity System, which assisted her office in uploading the election results statewide on her website.