Voters in the Aug. 14 primary in Walworth County will witness the introduction of new election hardware designed to catch more errors and to report results more quickly.
The county has invested about $500,000 in updating its election machines to modernize the system and creating uniformity among polling places in all 28 cites, villages and towns.
The new equipment will not change the way voters cast their ballots, but it will allow election administrators to enjoy the latest cutting-edge machinery for tabulating results.
Lake Geneva City Clerk Lana Kropf called the hardware a clear improvement from the machines used previously.
“It’s a little more mainstream technology,” she said. “These ones are an upgrade, definitely.”
It is the first time since 2001 that the county has invested in new election equipment.
Manufactured by Colorado-based Dominion Voting Systems Inc., the machines go by the name of Dominion Imagecast Evolution, or ICE. They are the devices into which voters feed their completed ballots — and from which clerks retrieve results after the polls close.
The county purchased 35 of the devices and has distributed them among all local municipalities for the Aug. 14 primary.
The partisan primary will narrow the field for statewide elections in November for U.S. Senate, governor, Congress and other offices.
County and local election officials said testing and a mock election have shown that the new hardware is working properly — and is voter-ready.
“Everything went well,” Fontana village clerk/administrator Theresa Loomer said.
The new machines are designed to do a better job of alerting voters or election officials to errors on ballots. While the old machines caught errors, the new devices are more precise about clearly identifying what sort of error has occurred and where it appears on the ballot.
Other benefits include more automated reporting of election results through wireless communication rather than analog telephone lines.
Delavan City Clerk Susan Kitzman said the new machines seem slower when it comes to accepting and processing a ballot. Kitzman said the slowness probably will not be an issue, but she said voters might find they are waiting a bit longer to complete the process.
“I’m not terribly concerned,” she said. “This one thinks for a minute longer.”
Bloomfield elections supervisor Candace Kinsch said the new equipment is an improvement, and she looks forward to seeing it in action.
“I like the new machine,” Kinsch said. “I do prefer the new machine.”