New voting system coming in November for Upshur County residents

BUCKHANNON – Something new is coming in November.

This General Election, voters will be introduced to a new voting system, ExpressVote, which is used as marking device. To ease voters into the transition, the Upshur County Clerk’s Office has scheduled demonstrations on how to use new voting equipment throughout the months of September and October – with the first one taking place today.

Upshur County Clerk Carol Smith explained voters will cast their vote on the screen, review the selections and then print out the actual ballot.

“The voter then has a paper ballot to view and check for accuracy,” she explained. “The voter will take the paper ballot to the ballot box commissioners where they will remove the ballot stub and string with the poll slip stub. The voter will then insert their ballot into the DS200 Precinct Scanner which will tabulate the votes.”

The ExpressVote and DS200 will replace the iVotronic system and the Optical Scan system. Smith said the biggest different between the old and new system is that each voter will have a paper ballot.

“The ExpressVotes do not capture vote totals, nor does it retain how a voter voted. It simply marks and prints the ballot,” she said. “With the DS200, the ballot is tabulated and then drops into a bin that is returned to the County Clerk’s office on Election night.

“If needed, every ballot can be hand tabulated to verify the vote total,” Smith added.

In late March, the Upshur County Commission decided to purchase the new voting system without financing, Smith said, noting the system was funded through the county’s financial stabilization fund.

“Just a few short days after the decision was made, the Secretary of State made the announcement that they had received Federal HAVA (Help America Vote Act) Funds to use as they determined,” she said. “The Secretary made the decision to share the funds with counties through grants and loans.”

Smith said the grants/loans were available to upgrade to new voting system, cyber security and physical security.

With the approval of the Election Assistance Commission, Upshur was allowed to request a 50 percent reimbursement for the voting machines purchased in March 2018, she said.

Upshur County was also awarded grant funds to purchase additional ExpressVotes, make physical security upgrades and install cyber security upgrades with training for county employees, Smith said, adding the equipment was purchased from Election Systems and Software, or ES&S.

Since Upshur County voters have been utilizing the old voting system since 2006, Smith will be holding a variety of demonstrations on how to use the ExpressVotes system. A public demonstration will be held from 5-8 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Brushy Fork Event Center. Smith encourages those who cannot attend the public demonstration to stop by the county clerk’s office for a demonstration.

Smith also has demonstrations scheduled with the following groups and in various locations: Elizabeth Zane chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution members at 1 p.m. Sept. 27 at Audrey’s Restaurant; Southern Upshur Business Association members at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at Banks District Fire Department; Brooks Hill Community members at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at the Brooks Hill Community Building during the Brooks Hill Social; Upshur County seniors at 11 a.m. Oct. 23 at the Upshur County Senior Center; and Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 29 at the 88 Restaurant.

Businesses or organizations interested in a demonstration should contact Smith at 304-472-1068 or cjsmith@usphurcounty.org. By hosting demonstrations, Smith hopes voters will feel more confident voting with new a new voting system.

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