Churchill County experiences smooth voting

Voters arrived early at the Fallon Convention Center to cast their ballots Tuesday morning.

Voters arrived early at the Fallon Convention Center to cast their ballots Tuesday morning.

Except for a few glitches, the county’s new voting machines worked smoothly during early voting and at the Fallon Convention Center for the primary election.

Churchill County Commissioners approved the new voting machines at their July 5, 2017, meeting. During the last legislative session held earlier in the year, County Clerk Kelly Helton said the Legislature appropriated funds for every Nevada county to purchase voting machines and related software. She said every county decided to go with Dominion Voting Systems, Inc. for equipment and VOTEC for both software and services.

Helton, though, said Carson City opted to go with another vendor for its voting machines and related software. She said the counties received grants out of the appropriated funds to help with the purchase.

“It was time to get new machines,” Helton said as early-morning voters cast their ballots at the convention center. “Our older machines had a greater chance of failing.”

Helton said the county purchased the replaced voting machines in 2005.

“It’s time to keep up with technology,” said Helton, who decided not to seek re-re-election this year.

Helton said the county has 60 new machines and are capable of receiving software updates. Voters also sign in on a pad, and election volunteers scan the sample ballot to retrieve voter information such as the correct spelling of the name, address, precinct, etc. Additionally, Helton said since the machines are not hooked up to the internet, the clerk’s office oversees the tabulation of the votes before the Secretary of State office in Carson City receives the final tabulation in a secure document.

Erin Montalvo, who handles the election process for the clerk’s office, said the new machines have presented very few problems.

“They’re similar to the new system,” she said of the new voting machines. “It’s new technology and sometimes people get worried about technology.”

Montalvo also said the machines are more secure than the older ones because of multiple levels of security procedures and passwords. Both Helton and Montalvo consider the glitches minor.

“The only problem we’re having is flood voting. That’s where someone pulls the voting card out of the voting machine prior to casting a vote,” Helton said. “So when they walk away from the voting machine, they haven’t voted. It’s not only happened in Churchill County but also across the state.”

Helton said election voters are reminding residents about the procedure.

Helton also said the printers jam notoriously, but that was also a problem with the older machines.

Steve and Pam Johnson didn’t experience any problems Tuesday morning with their machines.

“They were a little faster, honestly,” Steve Johnson said. “They were pretty straightforward.”

Pam Johnson though, said she encountered a few problems with the printer, but election officials quickly rectified the problem.

First-time voter Hayden Strasdin, a student at Churchill County High School, said he thought the process was easy as did his mother.

“I think it definitely went faster,” said Tricia Dooley-Strasdin. “The signature at the pad was a little different …but that’s the way of the world.”

Dooley-Strasdin said she felt the security was secure, and she didn’t have any concerns.

Montalvo said early voting was about equal with the number who voted during the 2014 primary election, the last time residents voted for the state constitutional offices.

According to Montalvo, 2,557 voters out of 13,096 (or .19 percent) cast ballots during the two-weeks of early voting. This included mail-in and absentee ballots. The busiest day for early voting was Friday when 462 people voted. The breakdown for early voting shows 1,594 Republicans and 525 Democrats who took advantage of early voting.


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