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Washington County To Use New Voting Machines In Pa. Presidential Primary

WASHINGTON (KDKA) -- Washington County is one of several counties that will be using new voting machines in Pennsylvania's Presidential Primary Election this spring. They'll create a paper trail, which Governor Tom Wolf said will help cut down on election fraud or mistakes.

Counties will either use the new machines or paper ballots to create the paper trail.

The new machine consists of a touchscreen similar to the ones before, but it now also contains a scanner.

Some election boards have already put them to use. For areas like Washington County, this will be the first election voters will use them.

"There will be a learning curve that the poll workers will have to have to help some of the voters with the voting," Washington County Director of Elections Melanie Ostrander said on Friday.

Here is how it works: voters will get a blank ballot from a poll worker and insert it to match the machine's insert. They'll then make all their selections and get a chance to review their ballot before printing it.

That's where the new step comes in. Voters will take the printed ballot and put it in a scanner at the polling place. Their vote will not count until it goes into the scanner.

"That's why we want to train the poll workers and educate them. Make sure they have one of the poll workers as a designated person near the scanner to make sure no voter leaves without scanning their ballot," Ostrander told KDKA.

Washington County will have 18 classes for their almost 1,000 poll workers between February and April. They will also have demonstrations for the public.

After a ballot is scanned, it will drop into a locked bin to keep a paper trail in the event of a recount.

"We can either hand count all of the ballots or run them through our high speed scanner," Ostrander said.

Election officials said voting should take just about as long as it did before. They believe the machines don't present an opportunity to be hacked.

According to Allegheny County Officials, "Voters will cast their votes on paper ballots by filling in an oval, and then will feed that voted ballot into a scanner for tabulation. For those who are unable to complete a paper ballot, there are ballot marking devices for voting."

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