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Paper ballots are back for upcoming primary election


By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer
Sometimes you have to look to the past to see the future.
At least that’s what local officials believe as they bring back the paper ballot for the spring primary election Tuesday, May 18. Most of the electronic machines will be replaced, though some eSlate machines will be available for limited use, Montgomery County Clerk Judy Long Witt said.
The move to paper ballots is a national movement to bring more accountability to the voting process.
“That way there is no doubt about how a ballot was cast and who won or lost,” said Joe Harp of Harp Election Services in Lexington.
With the electronic machines it could be difficult to show a voter that their vote was properly counted, federal lawmakers concluded, so they encouraged going back to the paper ballots. Florida’s contested 2000 election played a role in that decision, Harp said.
Harp held a training session on the paper ballot voting process Tuesday for local poll workers who will be overseeing the primary.
For voters the process will still require signing in with proper identification. From there voters will receive one of three paper ballots for the primary: either Democrat, Republican or non-partisan. Voters must vote within their party during the primary.
Voters can then take their paper ballots to private voting booths where they will use either a black or blue pen to color in the block next to the candidate’s name they wish to vote for.
Poll workers will have two private stand-up booths per precinct and a number of sit-down versions based on the size of the precinct, Witt said.
Harp instructed poll workers to carefully monitor the voting stations to see that privacy is protected and not to allow any ballot to go outside the precinct.
That’s especially important since several voters can be filling out ballots at the same time, Harp explained.
“Observe proper privacy,” he urged poll workers. “That’s important.”
After selecting their candidates the voter places the ballot in a slot in the eScan ballot box. The ballots are then fed into the box either face down or face up. Harp said the preference is to place the ballot in face down so that someone else can’t see how they voted.
Ballots are spun inside the ballot box to ensure that a poll worker can’t look inside to see how a voter cast their ballot.
Harp also took poll workers through several security procedures that should protect the integrity of the voting process during the training session. He told poll workers they need to establish a chain of custody for the ballots that can be verified should questions about the election go before the courts.
Harp also showed them how to handle spoiled ballots caused by voters or poll workers who make a mistake with the ballots.
Witt anticipates most voters will prefer the paper ballots once they use them.
The public can try out use of the eScan system in the clerk’s office at the courthouse now until election day.
Kentuckians who want to vote in the primary must register by April 19. Minors who are 17 years old, but will be 18 on or before the Nov. 2 general election are eligible to register and vote in the May primary.
If you have a question about your voting status you can reach the county clerk’s office at 498-8700.