May 11, 2017

By Carrie Hodousek in News | May 10, 2017 at 5:13PM

ST. ALBANS, W.Va. — West Virginia’s largest county will use new touch screen voting machines for the first time next month. Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick hosted a demonstration in St. Albans Wednesday for the new ExpressVote equipment. The new machines will be used in the City of St. Albans Election on June 3 and the City of Dunbar Election on June 6.

When voters cast their ballots, they’ll be asked to make their selections on a touch screen instead of on a sheet of paper. After completing the ballot, voters will then print out their sheet and submit it.

“I think the voter likes to have that piece of paper in their hand,” McCormick said. “They feel secure when they get that ballot in their hand, so this way, they’ve got both.” The touch screen ballot helps with accuracy, McCormick said. In previous elections, her office had issues because voters would not fill out the ovals completely. “Sometimes they’d make a check, sometimes they’d make an X, sometimes they draw out of the line too much, so we weren’t sure if it was even counting,” she said. “But we feel very secure about this.”

Victoria Westfall, the recorder for the City of St. Albans, tested out the new machine Wednesday. She said she likes that the machine allows a voter to go back and make changes. “It let me go back, so I think for people who may not vote for enough because they didn’t read you can vote for so many or if they voted for too many — they’re given the option to go backwards,” she said.

Voters also have the option of zooming in or out of the text. “We have a lot of elderly that come out and vote and some of them have a hard time seeing to color the dot or they couldn’t hold the pen. I think it will make it a lot easier for them to see the screens,” Westfall said. Kanawha joins seven West Virginia counties that have already used the new machines. By 2018, ten counties will have touch screen equipment.

McCormick said it’s important to keep up to date with technology.

“You have to update. Technology is here and this equipment is secure — it’s fantastic and that’s what we need,” she said.