Voting officials ready ballot machines for Tuesday’s election

By Jessica Kalin

DeKalb County has been using the same voting machines since the 2000 presidential primary and does not see any potential voting problems for this year’s election.

Hanging chads are not an issue, said County Clerk Sharon Holmes. The voting machines are user-friendly and there should be no problems with voting.

DeKalb uses an Accu-vote optical scan system, which Holmes said is similar to the testing systems schools use.

“I hope there are no problems in DeKalb County; this is a pretty fool-proof system,” she said.

Although all devices have a failure rate, the optical scan system comes in as one of the best, said David Rusin, associate professor of mathematics. It has one of the lowest failure rates.

“In DeKalb County, we are very lucky to have the optical scan system,” he said. “It is nearly flawless if people follow the instructions.”

The provided ballot is printed on heavy paper in large letters. Voters will darken an oval next to candidates names with a pencil and then place the ballot in a reading machine that will tabulate the results electronically; the machine accumulates the ballots.

Any errors are immediately detected by the machine and voters are able to ask for a replacement ballot or they have the option to have the ballot counted with the error.

Eileen Dubin, chair of the DeKalb County Democratic Central Committee, said there is always some concern, but the optical scan machine will leave a paper trail in case of errors.

“We have used the machines for years, so they are not brand-new to people,” she said. “I don’t expect any problems with these machines.”

Holmes said she is expecting a 70 percent turnout of those registered to vote in DeKalb County. Because there are 55,380 registered voters in DeKalb County, it has been divided into 81 precincts; the city of DeKalb alone has 36 precincts.

Holmes said the voter must know what precinct they belong to in order to vote. The voter’s precinct is listed on their voter registration card.

There are 405 trained election judges to assist voters; each precinct has five judges.

Each judge is required to attend a two-and-a-half hour training session and are provided with a booklet to explain everything they will be required to do from answering voter questions to the operation of the optical scanners.

Voting booths will be in place the day before the elections; supplies are in place the day of.