The ABC’s of Voting Machines

The days of the lever voting booths have long passed. Nowadays, with so many devices being touch screen, voting booths are no exception.

The AVC Advantage, used in 18 of the 21 counties, is a touch screen system and in Union County, 432 of them are used on election day.

The machines are stored in a warehouse in Scotch Plains. A week or two before the election, they’re transported to the polling locations. Before that,… the candidates’ names are programed into the machines by members of Union County’s board of elections. Everything is checked before election day. Union County Board of Elections Administrator Dennis Scott Kobitz says he’s always felt confident about the AVC machines.

“These are very reliable, they’re tested out, everyone is voted out,” said Kobitz. “If a Democrat were to program it, we have a Republican voted out to make sure that each vote is counted. After the votes are all done on election day, you can go in and do an audit trail and see how, not how each person voted but randomly it puts everything there so you count them all up. So if I was running for Congress and my lever was was A8, you can see how many times A8 was pressed during the day.”

As for anyone hacking into the system to change the vote tally, Kobitz insists chances are slim…….

“The only way to really hack these machines is you would have to take the back of the machine off you would have to take the computer chip out, bring it back to your lab, change the computer chip, get back to the polling place, put the new chip in, put the back back on.”

For the voting process, voters tap the button next to the candidate’s name and then hit the red button to cast their vote. No vote is finalized before the red button is pressed. If the machine malfunctions in the middle of election day, each machine is equipped with an emergency paper ballot. Warren, Sussex and Salem counties all use different voting systems.

Kobitz says the different types of machines counties use may be a matter of style, but at the end of the day, having confidence in the votes registered by the machine is what counts.

“At 8 p.m., when they run the polls to close, it will do printouts, so they take the printouts along with a cartridge and that goes to the county clerk’s office,” said Kobitz.

From there, the votes are tallied, and the results of a long campaign are finally in.

Reporting Newark, Lauren Wanko has the full story.