New touch-screen machine set up for practice voting

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A new touch-screen voting machine has been set up in the LincolnCounty Circuit Clerk’s office as part of an ongoing campaign byofficials to help people prepare for the upcoming election.

“We encourage everyone to come by and we’ll let you vote on it,”said Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins. “Hopefully, when people seehow easy it is, they won’t be intimidated by it and will tell theirfriends and family.”

Lincoln County Election Commission Chairman Charles Smith saidthe commissioners’ goal is to encourage as many residents aspossible to try the machine prior to the June 6 primary for federaloffices.

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“The majority of our voters are age 45 and over and computerilliterate,” he said. “We need to show them there is nothing tothis and there is no need to be intimidated.”

Election officials can help interested people learn how to usethe machine in her office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday throughFriday, Watkins said.

The voting machine has been set up for about a month, but “we’rejust now getting to the point where we can really concentrate onthis,” said Watkins, mentioning recent court activity.

Watkins estimated 20 people had tried the machine and “nobody sofar” has found the machines to be so challenging as to discouragetheir voting on election day.

LaWanda Dixon, a poll worker at the Johnson Grove precinct, usedthe voting machine for the first time Tuesday. She was amazed atits simplicity.

“This is easy,” she said. “I don’t even have a computer athome.”

Dixon also learned how to clear the cards that voters mustinsert into the machine to vote. An uncleared card inserted intothe machine earns a “ballot rejected” remark from the machine andvoters must return to the poll worker to receive another card.

County residents who don’t want to make a trip to the circuitclerk’s office to learn how to use the voting machine need onlywait because the voting machines will soon be coming to a placenear them, Watkins said.

The next step in educating the public is to bring machines tothe precincts and area churches to make them available to thevoters, she said. Election commissioners are meeting Friday todetermine a schedule for the machines.