Butler County using new voting machines for current election: What to know

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
How to vote on Butler County's new voting machines

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Butler County’s new voting machines use technology most everyone already uses, said the election office’s top executives.

It’s using similar technology found on tablets and smart phones, said Diane Noonan and Eric Corbin, the county board of elections director and deputy director.

“The main advantage to this system is it’s using current technology people are used to,” Corbin said. “It really does operate like your cellphone, and it really is like a large Android cellphone or iPad. So when people touch the screen, it does what they expect it to do.”

The machines were shipped this past summer and officials with Dominion, the manufacturer of the voting machines, came to help with installation and set up, and will be on site during Election Day this November.

Neither Noonan nor Corbin have heard of any complaints of the 1,000-plus in-office early voters who have used the new $7.5 million voting machine system purchased this year.

“Everybody so far that’s come here, we’ve had nothing but good feedback,” said Noonan. “Everything is very simple; it’s very easy.”

Though the voting process will be different this year, vote tabulation will be similar as previous elections, Corbin said.

Elections officials have pushed for new voting machines for the past few years, and the sustainability of the old machines was a concern for the office’s database administrator. He wrote the two office directors that his confidence level was “decreasing” with those machines.

VOTER GUIDE: Learn about the candidates and issues here

The state is pitching in $3.2 million for the new voting machine system. The local cash outlay for the system is $1.38 million and the board of elections will spend $2.9 million over 10 years for the system software and licensing.

The only issue for the Board of Elections is the delivery of the machines, as they arrived in Butler County in waves.

“It didn’t all come in at once,” said Corbin.

Noonan said the county elections office used existing stands for the previous system and Dominion fabricated backplates for the voting machines to be mounted, which also caused some shipping delays. There are about a dozen printers the board needs to return, along with a few voting machine tablets. That will be addressed after the Nov. 5 election.

“We have more (voting machines) than what we need for this election that are up and operational,” said Corbin. “We’ve got a few that have to be replaced, but with an order that big that’s to be expected.”

Butler County ordered 1,500 machines, and just under 1,400 machines are used on Election Day. In local election years, such as this year, about 25 percent of Butler County’s 244,000 registered voters are anticipated to participate. About half of the offices up for election in November are contested, and there are no state issues that typically drive voter turnout.

As of Wednesday mid-afternoon, 2,999 Butler County voters had cast an early ballot, 1,014 of whom voted at the Butler County Board of Elections on Princeton Road.

When the 2019 election is complete, Noonan said the voting machines will be readied for the 2020 March primary.

ELECTION 2019: No drama in elections for more than half of Butler County school boards

“It doesn’t matter if it’s for a presidential (election) or not, we start the next election right after we bring the equipment back from the prior election,” she said.

Election security has been a concern since the reports of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and many believe there will be interference in the 2020 election. Noonan and Corbin said not only new cybersecurity protocols are in place, but there will also be new physical security protocols in place, which were mandated by the Ohio Secretary of State.

And no voting nor tabulation machine — and that goes for previous and new machines — are connected to the internet, Corbin said.

“We are taking all the steps we can to lock the locks that we can,” he said. “We’re upgrading the operating systems on our computers, we are changing protocols for our emails, we have updated the security certificates on our website and we’re working on user access.”

Also, the Ohio Secretary of State required boards of elections have a security assessment on their buildings through the Department of Homeland Security. Noonan and Corbin can’t talk about many of the physical security upgrades, but one will be bulletproof glass installed at the three public service windows.


ELECTION INFORMATION

Early voting is open now in Ohio. Here are the ways you can cast a ballot in Butler County:

In-person voting: Visit your county Board of Elections 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays now through Oct. 25; 8 to 7 p.m. from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 2, 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 3 and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 4.

Absentee voting (also known as vote-by-mail): Registered voters can download the absentee ballot request form, or call or visit your local county Board of Elections, to request a vote-by-mail. Requests must be received by the elections office by noon Saturday, Nov. 2. Mailed ballots must be post-marked by Monday, Nov. 4. Absentee ballots may be hand-delivered to the board of elections office by the end of voting on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Board of elections:Butler County Board of Elections is at 1802 Princeton Road, Suite 600, Hamilton and can be reached at 513-887-3700.

Learn about the candidates and issues: Check out the Journal-News/Cox Media Group Ohio voter guide at Journal-News.com/voterguide.

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