New Voting Process in Pittsylvania Co. Should be Easier

Pittsylvania Co., VA - Voters in Pittsylvania County will see some changes on Election Day.

The registrar's office is working with the Board of Supervisors to acquire new voting machines.

Good news for some, after a few voters experienced problems with the touch-screen machines last year.

Voters will now cast their vote on a paper ballot and feed it into a machine that will notify them if they've made an error in filling out the ballot.

Some say this new process will cut down on confusion for a lot of voters.

"As Charles Hawkins says, a pen and paper still works," said Charles M. Williams, who was happy to hear the news of a new polling process.

He was one of several voters in Pittsylvania County who had an issue while casting an electronic ballot last year.

"I didn't know whether my vote was cast or not. I wondered how many others would have been the same way, " he said.

Many folks last year say they made mistakes on the electronic form and weren't able to go back, but registrar Jenny Lee Sanders says the paper ballot will prevent such confusion.

"If you've marked for two candidates under the same spot or if you haven't completely marked it, it will spit it back out and tell you that you've made a mistake," said Sanders.

The new process comes as a result of legislation from 2007 that prevents any of the previous touch-screen models from being purchased.

"There was kind of a public outcry by some groups that it didn't have a paper trail. The manufacturer stopped making them," Sanders said.

As the machines began to wear out, the county found itself exploring new options.

Now Sanders is hoping the Board of Supervisors will agree to fund a lease-purchase agreement for the machines that will receive the paper ballots, and she is confident Election Day 2013 will go much more smoothly.

"This way they've got something they can hold in their hands and look at and mark. It's kind of hard to mess up," she said.

If the funding is approved, the new system will go into effect this November.

The City of Danville will continue to use the touch screen machines, and the registrar says they have no plans of changing their process at this time.