Rowan County receives new ballot machines

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 12, 2018

SALISBURY — New ballot machines arrived at the Rowan County Board of Elections Office last Tuesday.

Some 50 machines, called precinct-based scanners and tabulators, were received at a total cost of about $245,000. The machines were financed as the county completed debt service payments for renovations to the Department of Social Services offices.

The voting machines are equipped with updated software and hardware to improve ease of use and accuracy.

According to a news release, even poorly marked ballots or ballots inserted at angles or with erroneous marks are read accurately and consistently with the new scanners.

Elections Director Nancy Evans said the old machines were accurate but didn’t have the capacity of the newer model.

The new machines have a touch screen for precinct workers and don’t take as long to start, she said. They have new features, such as taking pictures of write-in votes so precinct officials don’t have to manually search for and enter them.

Evans said voters should notice little difference.

The DS200 machines include locking panels and security seals to secure sensitive components and election files and a key-lock case for transport and shipping. The operating system controls, limits and detects unauthorized access to critical data, including safeguards such as data encryption and digital signatures.

Evans said she has been requesting new machines for three years because the data cards for the old machines are no longer produced.

“When you start running out of cards, you start getting panicky,” Evans said.

She said the request was met this year as she continued to make a case that the county would not want anything major to go wrong during an election.

“We want the voters to know that what we do is correct,” she said. “We’re going to make sure any way that we can that everything is correct, all the votes are counted and our totals are accurate.”