Test-run on new voting system successful

Test-run on new voting system successful

Test-run on new voting system successful

Tuesday’s primary election offered an opportunity for a pre-November test-drive of the county’s new voting system, which includes new voting machines and voter management system.

The voter management software and tablet-based kiosks replaced the large poll books previously in use at polling stations.

“We used to have to manually look in books and have them sign paper copies, but this is way faster because when they bring their sample ballot, you can just scan the bar code and it comes up on the computer, and you know you’ve got the right person,” said election official Joy Darre.

The new system has also reduced the number of people needed to run the polling locations. Where checking in and activating the cards for the voting machines used to require two separate teams, it all happens in one place in a matter of minutes.

“This should be way more efficient when the general election comes,” said election official Karen Anderson.

“As long as nothing crashes,” another official said.

Poll worker Vickie Rock said a few voters had trouble with the voting stations. “About the only thing that we saw that was confusing for people was that when you bring up your ballot the first time, you get a blank page that has what your ballot type is at the top (Republican, Democrat, Nonpartisan, etc.). But people thought because it was blank, that maybe it was just having trouble loading, so they would stand there for a while” until a poll worker would notice and help them get started.

After polls closed, information was stored on flash drives, transported to the courthouse via law enforcement and uploaded into the voting software quickly. Bruce Hoenicke with Dominion Voting Systems stood by to offer assistance.

Despite a larger than expected turn out, voting went relatively smoothly.

“The public saw what we were facing with the new voting equipment that was on site, but we’re running a whole new case management system, too,” said Humboldt County Clerk Tami Spero. “We’re introducing two very big parts of elections at the same time in a fairly short window of time.”

The move to the new voting system package was an early part of the county’s conversion to a new information storage system.

“We thought we would get the primary with ADS and then move to Votec between the primary and the general election, but they wanted a test. They wanted to make sure everything was going to work,” Spero said.

The new systems had fewer problems than anticipated, and voters appeared more accustomed to the electronic system than when the county switched from paper ballots to electronic in 2004.

“I think people are used to these machines now, and much more accepting of the process, so that made it a lot easier,” Spero said.

“All in all it went fairly well,” she added. “Kudos to all the poll workers at all the locations, because it was stressful for them and they all came through like gangbusters.”

“I’m just relieved that we’re at the end.”