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Civics Sunday - Town Election - The Preparation

by Chris Cain
May 19, 2019

We in America receive a gift from our commuity.  It is called a free and fair election allowing all who are eligible to determine our leaders and make important decisions. 

We in America receive a gift from our commuity.  It is called a free and fair election allowing all who are eligible to determine our leaders and make important decisions.  

Most occasions when gifts are given benefit from careful preparation to make the gift just right.  Also on such gift-giving occasions there is often one person in charge of the preparation with many helpers.

In order for us to receive the gift of voting on Tuesday May 21st, our Town Clerk, Elizabeth Greendale has been planning for months.  The nomination forms were collected, the official ballot was compiled and printed, absentee ballots were distributed, and before we can go to the polls, there is one important thing to do to ensure accurate and secure results - test the voting machines.

Recenty this reporter observed the flurry of activity at Town Hall as Liz, Assistant Town Clerk Dyan Fitzgerald, and Administrative Assistant Bonnie Conroy along with other election officials checked the list - more than twice - to make sure that everything was ready for the big day.

Even though we have four voting precincts, there are five electronic scanning voting machines - just in case!  Each of the five machines must be tested.  There are fifty test ballots representing the types of ballots that are most likely to be cast - correctly completed, write-in votes, too many marks on the ballot, and even no marks on the ballot.  The machine should react properly in each case and record the result. 

The Town Clerk sets up each machine.  The fifty test ballots are scanned into the machine.

Newly minted Registrar of Voters Eric Raffi (his wife is not running in this election) worked with Poll Warden Anne Zegel to 'cast' the test ballots.  Each of the remaining machines was tested in the same manner

At the end of the test run, a tape (similar to a cash register receipt) is printed from the machine. 

The results from the machine are reconciled with the master list that outlines how the machine should have handled each ballot.  They should match.  If they don't (and one machine didn't), a new part is installed to correct the error. 

Meanwhile, Dyan and Bonnie are checking the checklist to be sure all materials and supplies are ready for action on election day. All five machines are now calibrated and secured for use on Tuesday, May 21st.

Now it's up to us to use our ballot and the machines to receive the gift that has been so carefully prepared for us.  Imagine, all we have to do to get the gift is show up!

 

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Comments (2)

Great article Chris, thank you for raising awareness of some of the "checks and balances" we do for every Election.

- Elizabeth Greendale | 5/20/19 1:43 PM

Never thought about the amount of preparation. Great article!

- Shaw Lively | 5/19/19 2:49 PM

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