Advocates work to educate voters on use of new Shelby Co. voting machines

Published: Oct. 15, 2022 at 7:12 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Early voting for the midterm elections begins October 19.

Local organizations, like the NAACP, are partnering with Shelby County to ensure people know how to use the new voting machines.

“They’ll ask you if you want to prepare your ballot on the machine do a hand-marked paper ballot so now we have a choice,” an organizer said.

The new machines will change the way people vote this election season.

“It was expressed that there was a preference for some paper ballots,” said Mike Hewlett with the Shelby County Election Commission. “People wanted to hand mark their paper ballots which was not an option before and so this scanner allows us to do both of those things.”

The process is as simple as touching a screen and reviewing your options.

Once the ballot is printed, voters will then insert it into a machine. They can also fill in a paper ballot and insert it into the same machine.

“It also allows us to just hand mark and bubble in those selections and put them in the same way and they’ll be saved and recorded the same way on this machine,” said Hewlett.

The scanner records the votes and keeps a paper backup copy, which all has to be accounted for at the end of the night.

“I like the new machines,” Ian Randolph with the NAACP Political Action Committee said. I think they are a good replacement for the ones that we had, and I like the fact that they are air-gapped, they’re not connected to the internet.”

“At the top, you can see where you can change the text,” said an organizer. “You can make it large if you want and it will confirm for you. So, whenever you’re ready you can start voting.”

Because this year’s primary will be the first election with the new machines, officials said they wanted to ensure people are comfortable using them.

“If folks are hesitant at all to come and use the new technology, that’s why we’re having these demos around the city,” said Hewlett. “We want people to come out and kind of lay hands on the machines , and kind of do the process.”

Randolph says it’s important everyone exercise their right to vote.

“These elections for your state and local officials, have more of an impact on your everyday life than voting for president,” he said. “So it’s really important that you come out and vote in these non-presidential elections.”

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