Get out the vote: Early voting begins today in Washington County

Early voting begins today in Washington County

Photo by Janelle Patterson Meghan Leslie walks Marietta City Schools Superintendent Will Hampton through the check-in process to begin voting during the Washington County Board of Elections open house Monday.

Early voting begins today with new machines and QR codes, but accessibility and turnout are still the focus.

“Just now you get a barcode and there’s less room for error in filling out your ballot,” said Deputy Director Peggy Byers at the Washington County Board of Elections Monday.

The elections office held an open house on the final day of registration to guide local residents on the new machines, sporting touch screens, headphone jacks and a Braille touchpad.

“And the college is planning to send students, too, as we begin early voting who will help voters with the machines if they have questions,” added Byers.

But answering questions Monday was one of the vendor representatives Meghan Leslie, of RBM–the supplying company for Unison.

Leslie walked Marietta City Schools Superintendent Will Hampton and Treasurer Frank Antill through use of the new machines Monday, from “check-in” via bar code scan, to selecting candidates, typing in write-in candidates, and changing selections.

“Just like in a paper ballot, you get three chances to soil a ballot,” she explained. “So say you’ve made all you selections and printed out your ballot slip, but you’re unhappy with one of the choices or you’ve changed your mind you can be issued a new barcode to start again.”

Board of Elections Director Mandy Amos said during early voting if a new bar code needs issued, voters will return to the office’s front desk. But on election day a voter would need to approach a poll worker.

Byers said the new ballot slips will still need to be counted by scanning machine, but that the margin of error goes down without having to fill in an oval by pen to vote.

“And we’ll be saving on the cost of printing out those large paper ballots by switching to these paper slips,” she noted.

Next on the agenda for the board, besides early voting weekdays throughout the rest of October, are two poll worker trainings on Oct. 10 and 16 at Marietta College.

Then Nov. 2-4 will offer final opportunities for residents to vote early prior to Election Day Nov. 5.

Early voting will close at 2 p.m. on Nov. 4 and those results will be the first reported after polls close Nov. 5.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.