Home » Mercer County will use new Touch Screen Voting Machines in upcoming General Election and take other security measures

Mercer County will use new Touch Screen Voting Machines in upcoming General Election and take other security measures

by Community Contributor

With the vote by mail ballots now mailed to the voters in Mercer County, Mercer County’s Election Officials, Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello, Mercer County Superintendent of Elections, Walker M. Worthy, Jr., and Mercer Board of Elections Commissioners, are now preparing voters for Election Day and announcing new processes and features being offered on Election Day, November 7, 2023. They announced today that Mercer County will be using new voting machines with a verifiable paper trail in every voting district in Mercer County on Election Day.  These voting machines are similar to those already used by Mercer County during early voting, and were purchased by Mercer County from Dominion Voting Systems, a State-certified voting machine manufacturer. They allow voters to use a touch screen device to print out ballot selections which they will then scan into the voting machine.

The three Mercer County election offices, led by Worthy, Sollami Covello and Chairwoman Jill Moyer announced that the new voting machines were part of Mercer County’s plan to address and resolve and prevent problems in ballot processing and tabulation that arose during last year’s November General election.

Mercer County has taken four concrete steps to make voting easier and to make the voting procedures consistent whether a voter chooses to vote early or on Election Day.

The steps taken by Mercer County to avoid future election problems are as follows:

 1) The County has purchased new voting machines to avoid the transport of paper ballots to polling locations.  While paper ballots will still be transported back to the Board of Elections at the end of an election as a back-up, they will not to be pre-printed and transported to the polls by poll-workers. This will be less overwhelming to poll workers and more secure overall.

 2) The County learned that the ballots used in testing were pre-marked ballots created and generated by Dominion’s own program, instead of testing the actual ballots being used by voters on election day.  That will no longer happen. Testing is being done on the actual ballots voters will use on Election Day and they will make sure they scan properly into the voting machines.

3)  Dominion has assured the County that Mercer will have proper personnel and procedures in place to avoid any future problems. Dominion will also provide on-site assistance on Election Day.

4) The County Board of Elections is currently training poll-workers to ensure they are well-prepared to use the new voting machines and are familiar with how to secure ballots in their custody. The Board of Elections also added enhanced training classes, refresher classes, and online quizzes for poll workers to ensure that they are well prepared for any difficulty that might arise.

The Mercer County Commissioners, the County Executive and his staff, along with County election officials chose the Dominion ICX machine from among several N.J. State certified voting machines because they are easy to use, have a paper back-up, and do not read from a bar code.

They allow a voter to enlarge the voting screen font by touch, or to pull up the ballot in English or Spanish.  And, additional languages can be easily added with population changes. Voters who prefer to hand-mark their ballots can print a blank paper ballot and use a black pen or marker.

Additionally, the new machines offer privacy sides and privacy curtains to protect voter confidentiality. The new machines are also equipped with lockable steel doors on both sides of each unit, which offer additional security when not in use. On top of this, we have purchased new asset-tracking software and made other internal changes to prepare for the use of new voting machines and for the future.

County officials held several public hearings over the past year, and received feedback from voters following last year’s election stating that they did not like using markers to vote and they did not think that the paper ballots were well-secured at the polling locations among their complaints. 

The elections officials are pleased to be able to say Mercer County has delivered on what advocacy groups have sought in its voting machines for many years by providing a paper trail and implementing the aforementioned initiatives.

A video on how to use the new voting machines can be found here: 2023 Mercer County Has New Voting Machines 

If a voter wishes to obtain further information on the upcoming election, please visit www.mercercounty.org which contains the websites for all three offices.

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