New Voting Machines Bring Changes

Election commissioners in Lauderdale County say there are certain parts of the vote counting process that take longer now than in the past. With the touch-screen system, they say it takes them about four hours longer at least to review preliminary election results.

"It's longer on election night because we have 176 machines, and so that meant that they had to upload 176 cards," said election commission chairman Ann Watts. "Plus, we have to bring the absentees back to the courthouse and they are run through a very slow precinct scanner."

With the old system, Watts said all absentee ballots were counted at each polling site. However, as part of the new one, they all must be counted at the courthouse on the county's only vote scanner.

"The fact that you have to bring them back and count them at the courthouse, that takes an awfully long time," said Watts.

Watts says, despite some rumors that surfaced, no other election numbers, aside from the last ones released on election night, are known to anyone until all of the results are ultimately certified.

"We have heard people have told a candidate, 'oh, you've got 100 votes difference than what you had election night', and it's really cruel to the candidates," said Watts.

With this week being only the second time that Lauderdale County has used this system for statewide elections, commissioners say they believe the process will continue to get quicker and more efficient. They say they are planning to ask the county to purchase a second vote scanner to speed up the process.

But Watts said the system is secure and effective.

"The voters seem to love the touch screen and we're here to please the voters," Watts said.

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