New voting centers perform smoothly

February 5, 2014 • Local News

Election workers at Church of Christ check in voters Tuesday evening using the new Voting Convenience Center equipment. The new system ran smoothly, said Robbie Higgins, presiding judge at the center. (Jill McLaughlin Photo)

The new voting system experienced few problems and delivered results within 90 minutes after polls closed following Tuesday’s mill levy election, according to County Clerk Dave Kunko.

“I think it went really well,” Kunko said. “I’m very happy with the result.”

Eastern New Mexico State University-Roswell elected to change the traditional system and use Voting Convenience Centers for its special election. The C[auth] haves County clerk’s office provided technical support. ENMU-R is footing the cost of the election.

The election’s cost to pay for the technical equipment was an estimated $32,000 to $37,000 to pay for the new system, Kunko said.

“We’re going to have to wait until we get some of the invoices back,” Kunko said. “We really have no idea at this point.”

The state charges for use of the new machines, computers, printers and other equipment provided by contractor Automated Election Services.

The clerk’s office continued to pick up the new machines from the 10 polling sites Wednesday, following Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell’s special election.

Kunko wasn’t yet able to analyze many results of the technical aspects after using the system at the newly instituted voting convenience centers, he said.

Many voters were able to get through the lines and reported short wait times.

Around 6:20 p.m. at Church of Christ, Tuesday, some 25 people stood in line to vote. Once at the front of the line, they were checked in and signed a digital signature pad. They were then printed a ballot and voted on the mill levy question at a standing ballot box.

That process went quickly, Kunko said. At other sites throughout the day, voters streamed in at a steady pace.

The election only involved one question.

“I’ve talked to a few people that were in line. The ones I have spoken to said they were only in line about six to seven minutes,” Kunko said. “That’s not bad — 10 to 15 people in front of you and to get them out in less than 10 to 15 minutes. It wasn’t taking them long to fill (the ballots) in.”

Poll workers did have some trouble with a few machines, Kunko said.

“We had a couple of machine jams here and there, but that’s kind of typical,” Kunko said. “That even happened when we had traditional polling places. Those are very minor things. You’re always going to have some of those.”

Church of Christ was the only polling location to experience a delay in reporting to the clerk’s office, but still managed to return results by 8:35 p.m.

A presiding judge was “just trying to be careful” and ensure she had everything the clerk needed, Kunko said.

“I think that she was just trying to be over cautious,” Kunko said. “You typically do have a few polling places that take a while.”

Throughout the day, Kunko was able to check voting numbers instantly online and print reports. As results were returned, a results report was issued to media and results were projected via computer onto a wall inside the clerk’s office.

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