County unveils new voting procedure

Wabash County Clerk Elaine Martin (from left) scans in a driver's license as Election Board members Nan Roe and Susan Dockter look on. Voters will receive a vote card once their license, or other acceptable indentification, is entered into the system. Photo by Joseph Slacian. 

By Joseph Slacian

A new voting procedure will greet Wabash County voters during the 2018 General Election.

The procedure was demonstrated Tuesday morning, Oct. 2, to members of the Wabash County Election Board who, during the demonstration, also completed the required election machine testing.

“Before, when you went to the polls to vote, the judge set the machine,” County Clerk Elaine Martin explained. “You know, we are a Vote Center county, so any voter in the county can go to any location and all of the precincts are on the Infinity Panels.”

The judge would then determine what precinct the voter lived in and set the ballot accordingly.

However, starting this election an encoder will scan in the barcode on the back of a voter’s driver’s license, Martin continued. He or she will then receive a “vote card,” a hard plastic card similar to those used as hotel room keys, as well as a paper receipt.

The card contains the voter’s information and it is inserted into the voting machine. The machine will then display the proper ballot for the voter, including such things as school board races, judge retention questions and referendum question. It also makes allowance for any write-in candidates. The judge will take the voter card and return it to the pile for the next voter. The card can only be used one time, and must then be reprogrammed.

The encoder only reads a driver’s license. Those who have other forms of identification, such as a passport, military ID card or state-issued ID card, the clerk will manually type in the voter’s information to receive the receipt and the vote card.

Once the voting process is completed, the judge retains the paper receipt, which will serve as a paper trail for the election.
The Nov. 6 election will be the first time the new procedure is used in Wabash County.

“They did this in some pilot counties this past spring,” Martin said. “We were hoping to do it this past spring but we weren’t on the list. We just purchased them and they were given to us in the last two or three weeks.”

The encoders cost the county $110, or roughly $1,400 to purchase 13 of them.

The number of vote cards per vote center will depend on the number of machines at the center.

“Lagro won’t get as many as the Methodist Church here in town,” Martin said.

Deputy Clerk Teresa Ehret said if a Vote Center has three machines, it will get six or seven vote cards. If it has six machines, the Vote Center will get about 10 cards.

“And then the judges will just keep recycling them back to the clerk station,” she said.

Poll workers will be trained on the new system later this month, Martin said.

Posted on 2018 Oct 09