The Williams County Board of Elections is inviting the public to become familiar with the county’s new voting equipment at an open house during the month of June.

The new voting equipment will be set up at the county elections office, at 1425 E. High St., Bryan, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday in June. Call ahead at 419-636-1425 to set up an appointment, or just drop by, county Elections Director A.J. Nowaczyk said.

“We’re showing off our new voting equipment. We want people to see how easy it is to use,” Nowaczyk said Tuesday.

Earlier this year, the state appropriated $114.5 million that was distributed to Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections to purchase updated voting equipment ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

For Williams County, the state assistance was right on time, as the county’s voting machines were about 12 years old and in need of replacement, according to elections board member Jeffrey Erb.

The county received $394,032 from the state, the county contributed $14,791, and with that $408,823, the elections board purchased all new voting equipment in time for use in the recent May 7 primary.

The equipment includes 32 new Verity Touch brand direct recording electronic voting machines (scanners), 25 Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant machines with 25 printers, four office printers, plus licensing and technical support, Nowaczyk said.

Williams County continues using a paper ballot marking system, with voters receiving a paper ballot, filling in the circles next to the candidate or issue, then feeding a completed ballot into the new scanners for tabulation.

A new feature is the ADA-compliant Touch Writer brand ballot-marking device that comes with an audio tactile interface (ATI), allowing voters who cannot complete a paper ballot to generate a paper ballot marked with their selections. The ballot is scanned like every other ballot, unlike some systems that count such votes separately, according to the county’s vendor, Hart InterCivic, a longtime, Texas-based election services provider.

Nowaczyk said visitors to the open house can use a demonstration ballot to become familiar with the machines and the system.

“It’s quick and super easy to use,” said Nowaczyk.

He also pointed out the county’s voting system is especially secure because the system utilizes physical connections, not internet- or wireless-connected devices, and each machine creates a unique ID number on every ballot, for auditing confirmation purposes.

“It’s 100 percent offline. There is no Wi-Fi, no internet connections, so there’s not a way to get hacked. Even our counting system has no internet connection,” Nowaczyk said.

The 32 electronic voting machines and 25 Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant machines are more than enough for the county’s 15 polling locations, Nowaczyk added. (The county has 26 precincts, so some polling locations house more than one precinct).

The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 5 general election is Oct. 7, and early voting begins Oct. 8.

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