Beaufort County unveils new voting machines

Your Local Election HQ

New machines will use both touchscreen technology and paper ballot backup

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WSAV) – A new system is being put into place to make sure your vote counts in the next election — and every election — in Beaufort County.

The county has a new two-tiered system to count all the ballots from voters.

Paper is obsolete, in many ways, for businesses and even schools. But in Beaufort County, paper is a key to the new election system so voters can have peace of mind that their ballot will be counted.

When you go to vote, you will still use a touchscreen to cast your ballot just like in the past.

Now, there will be something extra: a paper ballot that will be printed after you make your selections. Those will be scanned into another machine, archived and logged.

The goal is to have a backup system in case an audit or a recount is needed.

It’s a two-step verification system that will be implemented not just here, but statewide.

“To me, I think that’s an advantage,” explains Marie Smalls, Director of the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections. “Everyone in the state, all our 46 counties, will be using the same system.

“It’s a sign of security where voters will feel more comfortable that the candidates or the issues that they are selecting is actually what it is that they want by having that paper in hand.”

The new voting machines will be rolled out statewide in 2020. But first, it will be used at all county precincts for the Nov. 5 school bond referendum and town council elections in Bluffton and Port Royal.

The hope is to get the bugs out of the system and get voters used to the new process before the presidential primary and election.

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