Primary to be high tech

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Local election officials are gearing up for next week’s June 3 primary election.

Escambia County Probate Judge Robert Agerton said voters and poll workers alike will notice changes at the voting precincts.

One of the biggest changes inside will be the technology used, while voters who find themselves at the table without ID will notice that voting isn’t as complicated as it once was.

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“We do have new voting machines and new iPads for every polling place,” Agerton said. “The machines look like the others, but what they can do is what is interesting.”

Agerton said ballots will be fed into the machine in the traditional manner; however, new software allows for easier retrieval of voting data.

“It will help us get the results we need in a more timely fashion,” Agerton said. “We were able to receive the iPads from a grant, which are pre-loaded with all the voting information.

“For example, say you come into vote in a school board race, and one side of the street may be in one district and the other side another district,” he said. “That can be very confusing for voters. These iPads will allow poll workers to look the voter up by name and tell them exactly what ballot the voter needs.”

Agerton said the iPads also come with video tutorials for poll workers faced with common voting day issues.

Agerton also said recent changes in the voter ID law will make it easier at the polls.

“I was afraid that was going to be a problem for us,” he said, speaking of the legislation that required voters to present a photo ID before casting a ballot. “But, that got changed. If you go to vote but don’t have your ID, as long as two poll workers recognize you, you can vote regularly. Your vote will count, and it won’t be as a provisional ballot. That will help us a lot. I was really glad to see that.”

Voters should also be reminded that the last day to apply for an absentee ballot is May 29. The last day a ballot can be hand-delivered to the circuit clerk’s office is June 2.

“You can get your application online or here at the office,” Circuit Clerk John Fountain said. “Or, you can call and we can mail you one. Please remember, if you and your spouse are voting by absentee ballot, each ballot must be in its on separate envelope. That’s the law.

“And if you know you’re going to be out of town, don’t wait until the last minute to get an absentee ballot,” he said. “But if you can get to the poll to vote, go vote.”