Cleveland County demonstrates electronic ballots
Local – The Shelby Star
SHELBY – When early voters in Cleveland County make their way to the polls, they’ll be the only North Carolina residents with the opportunity to test electronic ballots.
“People will come in and vote just like they always do for early voting,” said Dayna Causby, director of elections at the Cleveland County Board of Elections. “It’s the regular procedure, they’ll put their paper ballot into the voting machine, but then they’ll be given the opportunity to vote on a tablet to utilize new technology for North Carolina.”
Votes cast via tablet will not be recorded or tabulated in the election results, but are simply being used for demonstration purposes and to gather voter feedback on the new technology. The demonstration is optional for those who vote in the early election and can also be conducted by those who come to the Cleveland County Board of Elections office during the early voting period, whether they are a registered voter or not.
The demonstration will allow users to see exactly how the electronic voting process takes place. After completing the electronic ballot users will receive their printed paper ballot in order to review their choices before submitting, just as they would if the electronic ballots were actually being cast.
Although electronic ballots are not currently utilized in North Carolina, several other states use similar technology in their election process. Causby hopes testing the technology will be the first step in updating the county’s voting system.
“Our population is becoming more technology oriented and elections should be no different,” Causby said. “This technology will provide people with the opportunity to vote in the 21st century.”
The results from Cleveland County’s LiveBallot Demo will serve as one portion of a certification process through the State Board of Elections, which also includes approval from the board’s legal team and board members. If the certification for the project is approved by the State Board of Elections, then it would be up to the county board of elections to determine whether the technology would be utilized in future elections.
One of Causby’s main goals in testing the technology and utilizing electronic ballots in future elections is to help those who need assistance while voting. Although the county currently has measures in place to help those with seeing and hearing restrictions, Causby believes assistance from the new technology will be easier to use and less cumbersome.
Causby also said the electronic ballots make voters who need assistance stand out less, because it would allow them to use the same tablet as other voters, which could increase turnout in voters with seeing and hearing impairments.
“This tablet will help anyone listen to the ballot be read to them and enlarge it so that they can see it, so it will help any persons with sight restrictions or hearing restrictions,” Causby said. “It will allow more people to utilize voting as a way for their voice to be heard.”
Causby believes the new technology could also make curbside voting easier, encourage younger voter turnout and benefit the county’s taxpayers.
“There will be savings to the taxpayers of Cleveland County if this technology gets to be implemented,” Causby said.
According to Causby, purchasing new tablets for electronic ballots would be cheaper than eventually replacing the current measures for helping voters who need assistance and would also save on the cost of paper ballots.
Causby said Cleveland County has been persistent in trying to get new technology for voters, which is why she was excited to find that the county will be testing electronic ballots for North Carolina. She believes the county is the perfect size for testing the new technology, which may have helped in the selection.
“Cleveland County is a very good test size county, with 61,000 plus registered voters,” Causby said. “We’re smack-dab in the middle as far as size goes. In too large of a county this would be an overwhelming project and in a much smaller county I’m not sure it would give the state a good idea for how it will work.”