Commercial-News Editorial: Voting technology comes to Danville | Community

Illinois expanded access to voters in the pandemic, a movement made truly remarkable because of the nationwide trend of voter-suppression efforts in red states after the 2020 election.

But Illinois is really blue on the partisan spectrum, and voters will greatly benefit from that next time they go to the polls.

Danville’s voters, however, will face an even better deal next time they cast a ballot. They will have the option of using new touch-screen equipment at their polling places, thanks to the recent local addition of the technology.

To be clear, Danville is not on the leading edge of voting technology, the majority of Illinois polling places have touch-screen voting and have been offered that option for years. In fact, Danville is one of the last to embrace this proven technology.

Rather than pondering the potential reasons for trailing the field, bringing in touch screen polling places, let’s just say, better late than never.

To those who will be up in arms in the process of this change, we suggest they calm down. Anyone who still wants to vote by using a pen and paper ballot will be able to do so. We hope the vast majority of voters will delight in the new technology and use it. The touch screens are easy to read and use and are not intimidating at least. And remember, most of Illinois, not to mention other states, is using this kind of technology for quite a while.

The Danville Election Commission purchased 15 touch screens for $ 70,000 and will use them for the first time during the June 28 primary election.

The process is simple, as explained in a story earlier this week by Commercial-News reporter Jennifer Bailey. The machines are ballot-marking devices that fill in the ovals for a voter with a touch of a finger to the screen. These are Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, with headphones available for anyone to listen to the names and information on the ballot if needed.

When a voter goes to the polls, a voting card is entered into the machine. On the screen, voters touch the candidate’s name or other contest choice to select. If there are more candidates than will fit on the screen, a yellow bar appears at the bottom of the screen, signaling more options. A voter can touch the bar to see the remaining candidates.

After each selection is made, a voter touches “next” at the bottom of the screen. Someone can also go back to a previous page by pushing “past.” If voters want to do a write-in vote, they touch the write-in option and use the on-screen keyboard to enter the write-in name. Then the voter would touch “acceptance.”

When the selections are made and verified, the voter will touch the “print card” to print the completed ballot on the activation card. The voter then takes the ballot card, as has happened with the ballots in the past, to insert it into the vote counting machine.

Voting should be easy and accessible to everyone who is eligible to vote. The touch screens represent a step forward for Danville voters.

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