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Voting machines in and ready in Panhandle

April 11, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The new touch-screen voting machines available this year to voters in Jefferson and Berkeley counties have arrived and voting officials are gearing up for the primary election that's less than one month away, voting officials said Monday.

Voters in Berkeley and Jefferson counties can either use the touch-screen machines or a paper ballot to select candidates.

Voting officials in the two counties said they are ironing out final details as they get ready to implement the new machines.

The primary on May 9 will feature only a few contested races in the Panhandle, including an 11-candidate field in the Jefferson County Board of Education race and a five-man race in the battle for the Republican nomination for the Berkeley County Commission.

In Jefferson County, voters will have the chance to use AutoMARK machines.

There is an AutoMARK machine for each of the 31 precincts and two backup machines will be available in case any problems arise with the voting devices, said Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan.

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Maghan said she also plans to have a technician available to the county May 9 to help with any possible problems.

Jefferson County Commission member Dale Manuel said Monday he wants to make sure there is enough staff in place to help run the new voting system, such as preparing the ballots to go into a new counter.

Manuel said he would rather have too many workers than too few, and he wants to know "who they are and when they are available."

Maghan said she still needs about 16 workers, who are typically county employees who earn extra pay to work the election.

About 40 workers are needed for the election, Maghan said.

Early voting will be held between April 19 and May 8, although Maghan said she is not sure the AutoMARK system will be available for early voting.

The touch-screen machines being used in Berkeley County are Ivotronic machines, said Bonnie Woodfall, supervisor of the Berkeley County Voter Registration Office.

There is an Ivotronic machine for each of the 65 precincts and there are a couple of backup machines in case of problems, Woodfall said.

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