York County Gets New Voting Machines

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The new ballot scanner includes a touch screen that will alert the voter if the ballot has properly filled in. (Courtesy Election Systems & Software)
The new ballot scanner includes a touch screen that will alert the voter if the ballot has properly filled in. (Courtesy Election Systems & Software)

Voters in York County will use new machines to cast ballots this November.

The county announced Monday it had received 28 DS200 precinct scanners and 18 ExpressVote machines for use in the November general election.

The Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of the new voting equipment in April at a cost of $230,000.

The new machines replace the county’s aging voting software, AccuVote and WINVote.

After the supervisors’ vote, York County Electoral Board Chairman Philip Wolf said he had never had any problems with the machines in his eight years on the electoral board, but the previous units were decertified by the state board due to security concerns.

“The Electoral Board and the Voter Registrar’s staff worked for several years identifying the need for new machines even before the State Board of Elections made its determination regarding the WinVote machines,” Wolf said in a news release. “We are pleased to be able to provide the voters of York County with voting machines that are secure and will maintain the integrity of our election system.”

The county expects to use the new equipment for 10 years. Wolf said the WinVote equipment had been in use for nearly 20 years before it was replaced.

The new machines are similar to the previous equipment as voters will still mark paper ballots and insert them into the machines for recording through an optical scanner. A message will appear on a screen informing the voter whether the ballot has been successfully recorded or whether more assistance is necessary.

The machine will also let voters know whether they have selected more candidates than allowed in any contest, and will maintain a paper trail for auditing purposes.

In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly prohibited local governments from using digital-only touch screen voting machines that did not leave a paper trail. That ban included York County’s old WinVote machines, which was used for voters with disabilities. The new machines will accommodate voters with hearing and visual impairments.

Residents of the county will have a chance to inspect the new equipment before Election Day Nov. 3. No date has been set for that event.

In addition to York County, 24 localities in the state are expected to use the DS200 equipment by the end of 2015, and 20 other localities will use the ExpressVote touch screen scanners.

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