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MAHONING CO. With a touch, vote to be cast

Published: Thu, August 8, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.

The new equipment will be used across the entire county in November.



YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County officials launched a second campaign today to introduce and promote a new electronic voting system.

County commissioners approved purchase of the new touch-screen system earlier this year for $2.9 million. It replaces the paper ballot system that was used here for years.

The electronic machines were used in the May primary election, but only in Youngstown. Because the system is new, board of election officials felt there was not enough time to train all county poll workers for the primary.

Commissioners and the board of elections had a monthlong educational campaign before that election.

The election board now has all 850 of the machines it ordered and intends to use them in all county precincts for the November general election, said Deputy Director Thomas McCabe. That means it's time to start educating people in the rest of the county on how to use them.

He said the new system worked extremely well, with only a couple minor problems and was well-received in its limited spring run. Its expanded presence in the fall should be much the same, McCabe said.

What's being done

The key will be getting the word out to voters that the paper-and-pencil voting method they've used for years is gone, so no one's surprised when he or she steps into the voting booth.

Election officials also plan to educate as many people as possible about how to use the machines before the election. They'll visit festivals, government meetings and block watch meetings.

The equipment is portable, so it can be taken on the road for demonstrations. It's set up with names for a mock election, giving people a chance to actually test the machines.

"We're going to get out to as many community events as we can and let people see these machines," McCabe said.

Letting people see and try the new system before they actually have to use it should help make election night go smoother, he said.

Commissioners have said the system, financed with a 10-year loan, is among the best in Ohio.


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