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MAHONING COUNTY Voters get lesson at rock and poll event



Published: Sun, September 22, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The county's 1,200 poll workers will be trained to use the system.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BOARDMAN -- It's no surprise that some Florida voters and poll workers had problems with the state's new touch-screen electronic voting system earlier this month. They didn't have "Mr. Rocktober" to lead them through the voting process step-by-step.

"Mr. Rocktober" is Tony Caldwell, 21, a Youngstown State University sophomore from East Liverpool who helped teach local voters about the system at Saturday's Rock the Vote event in Boardman. It featured bands, food and a voter-registration table.

The same electronic voting system that was used in Florida will be used in Mahoning County this November. The Florida primary was marred by complaints about the system and poll workers.

Caldwell and "Ms. Rocktober," Jessica O'Connell, are interns with the county board of elections who will be explaining the electronic voting process to community groups during the next few weeks. The two earned their "Rocktober" titles by winning a board of elections essay contest.

Caldwell called the electronic voting system "pretty fail-safe." He noted that poll workers will be available at voting sites in November to answer questions.

How it works

The electronic voting process starts when a poll worker inserts a cartridge into the voting unit, which is about the size of a laptop computer. A list of the ballots available for voting then appears on the unit's screen.

Poll workers touch the screen to select what type of ballot is needed for each voter. They then leave the voter to cast their ballots.

After the ballot is selected, a list of the candidates and the officers they are seeking appears on the screen.

Voters make their selections by firmly touching the name of their chosen candidate or touching buttons marked yes or no for an issue. They can also write in candidates by typing a name using letters that appear on the screen.

When the voter is done, he or she presses a box on the screen that reads "next page." A summary of the candidates and issues selected by the voter appears on the screen. To cast the ballot, the voter pushes a bright red "vote" button at the top of the unit.

The system was used in Youngstown during the May primary. Board of Elections Director Michael Sciortino said there were no major problems with the system.

Sciortino added that the 1,200 poll workers in the county will receive hands-on training on how to use the system before the November election.

hill@vindy.com




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