Beginning with the June 9, 2015 Republican Party primary election for the Virginia Senate in the 8th and 14th districts, Virginia Beach will use new digital scanner voting machines. The new system uses a paper ballot, which is digitally scanned into the ballot box.
Voters are invited to look at the new machines on Thursday, May 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the lobby of the Princess Anne Recreation Center, 1400 Nimmo Parkway.
The new system has two primary advantages:
- When polls are very busy, more voters can mark ballots at any given time, limited only by how many marking stations can fit in a polling place. With the old machines, only a limited number could be deployed to each polling place. Any individual voter could tie up a machine if he or she took a long time.
- The paper-based system provides a durable record of all votes cast. If, for example, a polling place loses electricity, voting can continue with paper without interruption. The ballots can be inserted into the scanner later by an election officer or, in the worst-case scenario, they can be counted by hand. The durable record includes both a digital image of the ballot and the paper ballot itself.
Virginia Beach’s evaluation and procurement process to replace its aging electronic voting machines began about two years ago with the intention of having a new system in place by June 2015. ES&S and Printelect were selected as the vendor.
How it works
All voters will be given a paper ballot to mark their selections. When complete, voters insert the ballot into a digital scanner. At the close of polls, election officers run a tally of all votes cast on the scanner.
The new system also enables those with special needs to vote without assistance, should they so choose. Each polling place will have a ballot marking station that will allow either touch-screen or audio selection. Once the voter completes all selections, the station produces a ballot card, which is then inserted in the scanner to be tallied along with all other voted ballots.
“We are excited to implement this state-of-the-art voting system, which is user-friendly for voters and officers of election.” said Virginia Beach General Registrar Donna Patterson. “ES&S and its local partner, Printelect, have an outstanding track record in the commonwealth and across the country.”
Since 2007, Virginia law prohibits localities from purchasing electronic voting machines. Localities, including Virginia Beach, which already own such machines, may continue to use them, but when the machines are ready for replacement, the new system must be paper-based. Virginia Beach has now replaced all voting machines.