Beginning this November polling places
across the country will have gone over from potentially faulty punch
card or lever systems to more reliable electronically read forms of
ballot casting. County Clerk Sally Litterly understandingly stated
that she doesn't really like change herself because it is hard, but
she explained the change has come about because of new federal
Logan County voters will no longer use
the punch system that has been in effect here for years. Rather they
will be using what is called an optical scan machine. It is a system
that is simple for voters to use and is something like the ACT or
SAT tests, where you fill in the oval of your choice. Most people
have seen or used a card like this at some time. The card is then
read by the machine when the voter comes out and inserts it into the
One of the positive features with this
system is that it is expected to greatly reduce the number of
unintended under- and over-votes that normally occur. If a voter has
not made a choice for one of the offices or has made too many
choices in offices where more than one candidate can be selected,
the machine will show the voter the over-vote or the under-vote for
that office. Voters can then go back and amend their choices if they
choose to do so.
The use of this system also eliminates
counting by hand. The machine automatically does all the counting
To assist in the changeover the federal
government is buying out the old systems at $3,192 per polling
place. The new scan machines cost $4,500 each, leaving a difference
of $1,308 to be covered by the county.
Currently townships are subdivided into
precincts, each with its own polling place in Logan County. In many
places the distances between polling places are quite short. Just
one optical scan machine is capable of servicing four precincts in
one polling place. Because the machines carry a large cost and the
smallest of the areas has as few as 38 voters come out for an
election, Litterly said she went to the townships and they put their
heads together to figure out what was best for the voters of Logan
Several of the smaller townships have
agreed to consolidate their precincts. "We don't have horse and
buggy anymore, and it's not like we have to go a long way -- we
might just have to drive five blocks to the next polling place,"
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The following townships agreed to
East Lincoln with 12 precincts will
have five polling places.
West Lincoln with 10 precincts will
reduce to five polling places.
Atlanta's three precincts will
consolidate to one polling place.
Mount Pulaski will combine four
precincts in one polling location.
Thought is still being given to whether
to ask Cornland to go to Elkhart for a combined polling place. That
is a 10-mile drive between locations and is the longest distance
The consolidations have saved the
county over $70,000 on the machines alone.
There will still be the same number of
election judges, five per precinct, and everything else stays the
The state board of elections is
supplying $140,448 for the Logan County system buyout. The total
cost for the changeover will be $149,400. The county will need to
pony up the additional $9,000 needed. But that isn't a big concern
because that cost will fall in the next fiscal year budget, Litterly
Voters will be prepared for the changes
well in advance. Letters will go to every voter explaining the
change, and an actual sample ballot will be included.
Voters affected by precinct changes
will get an additional letter explaining where they will go to vote.
Some of those decisions have not yet been confirmed by the
Litterly said she chose the optical
scan for several advantages it offers. The other type of voting
machine to choose from was a touch screen.
1. The optical scan is less expensive.
2. The touch screen handles only one
booth. The optical scan can handle up to four voting booths, thereby
saving voters time waiting in line.
3. The touch
screen uses a printer to print out every ballot; it thereby requires
a printer that could have something go wrong during election hours.
The optical scan does not use a printer.