Douglas County to receive voting machines this month

Douglas County will receive its new voting machines sometime in May, County Clerk Jamie Shew said.

Late last year, at Shew’s recommendation, county commissioners agreed to purchase a voting machine system for $855,514 from Omaha-based Election Systems & Software Inc. Federal funding will provide $460,000 toward the purchase.

Once the machines are received, county employees and poll workers will be trained on how to work with them, Shew said. The machines will first be used during the Aug. 1 primary election.

Before the primary, Shew plans to take a machine to different public locations in the county so voters will have a chance to see how it works.

“My goal is to be able to put up a schedule where it will be in libraries at different times and just as many places as I can get out in public as possible,” Shew said.

Douglas County’s machines still will require voters to mark their choices on a paper ballot. The ballots, however, will be entered into a machine and counted at the polling places, instead of having to wait to be counted at the county clerk’s office.

The new system will allow people with disabilities to vote without the assistance of a poll worker or a friend.

It also will alert voters if they make a mistake in completing their ballots, such as voting for too many candidates.

Some counties already have demonstration machines they have been showing the public, said Stephanie Wing, spokeswoman for Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, the state election officer. “Overall the response has been pretty good,” she said. No new machines were used in the spring elections in Kansas, Wing said, and no major problems are expected when they are used in the August primary.