In February, the Prince William County Registrar’s Office held a couple of mock elections with the Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Kermit the Frog and others on the ballot vying to be the voters’ choice. The goal was not to pick a favorite character, but rather to help the County pick new voting machines.
Prince William County has to replace its voting machines; and election officials needed to know which one of the voting systems people liked best. The winner was a paper-based voting machine, made by Hart InterCivic Inc. that electronically scans paper ballots.
While the machines count votes electronically on Election Day, scanning paper ballots provides advantages, said Doug Geib, the Prince William County general registrar. “People will mark the paper ballots and then feed it through the machine, which takes about four seconds to read each ballot. The ballot goes straight into a ballot box under the machine and will be held there until the end of the day.”
Geib also said situations could arise where paper ballots are essential. “One of the benefits is having a paper trail in the event that we do a recount. The paper ballots can be recounted if they need to be.”
The county needed to move to new voting systems to replace failing machines, Geib said “The ones that we have now are all touch-screen, and they’re coming to the end of their life.”
A second reason for purchasing new voting machines is that the Virginia General Assembly prohibits jurisdictions from purchasing the type of touch-screen machines that are currently in use in Prince William County.
The goal is to deploy the new machines in time for the November 2014 elections.
As for the results of a couple of questions on the mock-election ballot; Kermit the Frog won as the favorite Muppet and Superman was the peoples’ choice for superhero.