Lyon County residents had a chance to try out several new voting machines Monday afternoon during a mock election held by the Lyon County Clerk’s Office at the Lyon County Fairgrounds.
The new machines create a paper trail for voters by providing them with receipts and paper ballots. Voters will receive receipts before voting, cast their ballots and then see a printout of their selections.
Lyon County Clerk Tammy Vopat said she’d had about 30 people show up in the first half hour of the mock election, adding she had received positive feedback from participants who enjoyed having the paper ballot.
“The paper trail, it’s a big deal and we heard that loud and clear when we considered buying equipment,” Vopat said.
Former County Clerk Karen Hartenbower attended the mock election to test out the new machines.
“I’m always interested in voting and seeing new equipment,” she said.
She said she believed the paper trail created by the new machines will benefit voters.
“There’s always the perception that going through electronic and programming the units that somebody could actually get in there and mess with it,” she said. “They really couldn’t, but there was a perception and the perception has always been, ‘if I can’t see how I voted on a piece of paper, then they could manipulate my vote.’”
Loren Wells, a retired Canadian election official, was among those who voted in the mock election. She said she believes the new equipment is secure from the voters’ point of view because it allows them to ensure the ballot is marked the way they want.
“The will of the voter is very clear in these machines,” Wells said.
The new equipment also contains extra features to make it easier for people with disabilities to vote, according to Wells.
It’s possible to change the contrast on the screens, enlarge the font or use a headset to interface with the machines.
“It made quite a difference in Canadian elections when we used technology like this,” Wells said.
The new machines replace ones the county had been using for about two decades, according to Vopat.
In the mock election, voters didn’t have to be 18 or older to take part. Sixth-grader Jacob Simons attended with his mother and cast a ballot because he wanted to see the new machines.
Though he isn’t old enough to participate in a real election, he plans to once he turns 18.
“I feel like it’s important for a country that everyone votes,” he said.
High school student Hannah Herron also voted in the mock election. She’ll turn 18 this summer and has registered to vote in the next election. Herron attended the mock election for extra credit.
She said the new machines are “super easy. I thought it was gonna be complicated and it’s not.”
The new equipment will be used during the Aug. 7 primary election.