700 new voting machines will change how Louisville ballots are cast in 2018
Writing in pen instead of pencil is new, along with the machines those ballots will be counted on, but there will still be paper ballots.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The next time voters in Jefferson County go to the polls, they'll use a pen to cast their ballot, the first indication of Louisville's new voting system.
The Jefferson County Clerk's office spent more than $3 million this year on 700 new machines.
"This is about voter integrity," said James Young, co-director of the Jefferson County Election Center. "It's about ensuring the best technology is available for the voters."
The County Clerk's office plans to roll out the new machines at every polling location in Louisville, completely eliminating its old fleet.
"Our neighboring state, Virginia, just de-certified equipment we had in this county for nearly 20 years," Young said.
Writing in pen instead of pencil is new, along with the machines those ballots will be counted on, but Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw is was quick to point out that there will still be paper ballots.
"There will always be a paper trail," she said.
Holsclaw said the county's older machines often malfunctioned or broke down, and parts became hard to find.
"You get questions of, 'Did my vote actually count?'" Young said.
Holsclaw wanted an update to the system but not a purely electronic one, adding that paper doesn't get hacked, and it doesn't get viruses.
"I don't trust the internet when it comes to voting," she said. "Any of the problems found in voting has had to do with the internet."
The county purchased 350 new vote tabulators called the DS 200. They look like big black recycling bins with a video display monitor that confirm when a paper ballot has been cast.
There are also 350 ExpressVote electronic machines. Young said they are primarily for people with special needs, including visually impaired voters who need audio prompts.
He said the difference is that, unlike the old electronic voting stations recently de-certified, the ExpressVote won't tally ballots inside its computer. After voters make selections on the display screen, a paper ballot will print, and they'll place it in the DS 200. It brings all votes into one place as a way to increase security.
"I'd rather see a paper jam than someone get in there and change their vote," Holsclaw said. "I think, particularly for poll workers, it's going to be much easier."
The 2016 presidential race brought voter fraud to the forefront of public concern. President Donald Trump regularly accused cities and states of corrupt elections on the campaign trail and established a voter fraud commission to investigate it after winning office.
Louisville's new machines are considered more "user-friendly." Fewer glitches mean less doubt, and for Young, that's what matters on Election Day.
"(It's) ensuring that democracy happens," he said.
The new voting equipment will be put to use for the first time in the May 2018 primary. The election will be headlined by candidates seeking their party's nomination for mayor of Louisville.
Copyright 2017 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.