Leslie Lacy inspects a voting machine for a recent Washington County election. (Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press file photo)
The Washington County Election Commission will roll out 140 upgraded Microvote Infinity electronic voting machines this spring, just in time to accommodate a 2014 election year in which all elected county seats are up for grabs.
A nearly $149,000 federal Help America Vote Act grant was awarded to the Election Commission, and it plans to have 120 machines it already owned, and 20 machines it had been leasing from the Indiana-based Microvote, back in its possession and fully refurbished sometime next month.
“That money will go toward the purchase of the 20 machines we had been leasing,” Administrator of Elections Maybell Stewart said Tuesday. “They are taking the machines and completely upgrading them — from monitors to cords to software. The software is the main thing, because it means the motherboard will be upgraded and will be able to hold more information.
“Some of the monitors were beginning to get a bit cloudy, and we did occasionally have problems with the cords. This should really make things a lot easier for voters, and they all will be under warranty through November 2020.”
After registering at polling places, officials direct voters to the machines where the workers activate the machines. An appropriate ballot is selected, and the voter takes over from there. The monitor is lined on both sides with gray buttons matched with office titles and candidate names.
The machines notify voters when the maximum number of candidates have been chosen. If a mistake has been made, voters can push the button next to the candidate’s name they wish to change a second time. This allows the voter to make a different selection.
Voters also can push a button and write in a candidate, Or, they can make no choices for a particular office at all. Headphones also are available for visually impaired voters. An audio component helps guide these voters through completion of the ballot, confirming choices along the way.
Voters push a raised red button when all final selections have been made.
Here are a few important dates for the 2014 election cycle:
• April 7: Last day to register for county primary.
• April 16-May 1: Early voting.
• May 6: County Republican primary (Democrat primary not yet called).
• Aug. 7: Election Day.
For voting machine information, and for questions concerning registration, voting times, polling places, deadlines and other requirements, go to wcecoffice.com or call the Washington County Election Commission, 753-1688.