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Counties prepare to e-vote

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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Elections officials in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties are gearing up to teach poll workers and voters how to use electronic voting machines before fall political contests.


Democratic elections commissioners in both counties said some people might find the notion of electronic voting machines intimidating, but they hope to dispel that belief through upcoming public education campaigns and demonstrations.


The switch to electronic machines is to comply with the 2002 Help America Vote Act, intended to increase voting access for the disabled and avoid election problems such as those that plagued the 2000 presidential race.


"It's a new system, so there is some hesitancy there," said Jefferson County Elections Commissioner Sean M. Hennessey. "The great thing about them is they are incredibly easy to use. When people do try them out, there's a big shift in perception."


St. Lawrence County Commissioner Jennie H. Morrill said voters will mark paper ballots which will be fed into a machine that scans them and records votes.


"It's really quite easy," she said. "There are a lot of people who fill out lottery tickets every day, and this isn't very different."


Mr. Hennessey said he expects his office to begin training poll workers and offering information to voters on how to use the machines starting next month.


Ms. Morrill said the voting machines are currently being upgraded with a vote tabulation function, and poll worker training will begin after the county gets the machines back and ensures there has been no tampering.


"Then we'll start doing voter demonstrations," she said. "We plan to go to all of the major communities and will try to get to some of the smaller towns. We'll ask people to come out and try it out so they can see how it works before Election Day."

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