Beaufort County testing new voting machines ahead of election

Beaufort County testing new voting machines ahead of election
New voting machine (Source: WTOC)

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Friday, Oct. 4 is the last day to register to vote in Beaufort County along with several other South Carolina counties, and now, the entire state will have a new voting system.

South Carolina voters will have a new voting experience come Nov. 5.

“Change taking place is pretty much the trend of the nation; to have that paper back up, and South Carolina thought that was very important, and that was one of the things that they looked for when we went out looking for a new voting system," said Marie Smalls, Director for Voter Board of Registration, Beaufort County.

Smalls says the new system adds security to South Carolina’s voting practices.

“Where the voter will now feel more comfortable that the candidates or issues that they are selecting is actually what it is that they want, by having that paper in hand," she said.

The system has a two-step verification process that allows voters to review what they want twice before casting their ballot.

All Beaufort County voters have to do is go to their precinct and pick up the paper once they have been certified, then make their selection. To make the selection, all you have to do is insert your ballot into the green slot and go through each desired choice. Once you’ve made all of your selections, you print your card. Every ballot has a bar code for each section you’ve made so that when you put it into the machine, it reads your vote, and you’re done.

Once all ballots are scanned, they are put into a locked box so that every vote has a paper backup. Systems Specialist Vernon Kemp says this ensures security.

“They will be completely marked with their polling location and everything, so we will know exactly which one comes back,” he said.

Helping with inclusion, an enhanced voting system for the visually-impaired has also been installed for these systems.

“On every express box, we have what is called a keypad, and this is for every voter who is visually impaired.”

Overall, Kemp says he has gotten good feedback on the new system.

"It’s simple for, you know most of the voters out there, I think the voters will love this. We’ve done some test runs and they love it so far, the ones that have gotten their hands on it, so it’s really fun.”

In-person absentee voting for three local elections in Beaufort County will begin in about two weeks. The elections are for Town of Bluffton, Town of Port Royal, and the School Bond Referendum on Nov. 5. In-person absentee voting will start Oct. 14 and will end on Nov. 4.

The Beaufort and Bluffton office will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. On the last day of in-person absentee voting, it will be open until 5 p.m.

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