Printelect machine

Tom Janyssek of Printelect demonstrates a ballot scanner and tabulator for the Pasquotank County Board of Elections, Wednesday, Aug. 5. The board of elections plans to host a simulated election using the new scanner/tabulators in the Red Cross auditorium at 1409 Parkview Drive, Elizabeth City, Wednesday, March 3 at 9 a.m.

The Pasquotank County Board of Elections will be counting election ballots next month.

But it will only be a simulation as election officials put the county’s proposed new ballot scanners and tabulators through a rigorous testing process. The simulation is needed to ensure the machines “will work to the needs of the citizens of Pasquotank County,” said Pasquotank Board of Elections Director Emma Tate.

Tate said the elections board is planning to run several hundred ballots through the state-of-the-art Printelect machines. County elections office staff, members of the Pasquotank Board of Elections, state Board of Elections staff and representatives from Printelect will conduct the simulation in the Red Cross auditorium at 1409 Parkview Drive, Wednesday, March 3 at 9 a.m.

County and city officials are also expected to take part in the simulation and Tate said she has also invited two representatives each from the county Republican and Democratic parties.

Tate said having party officials take part in the simulation will allow them to have confidence in the voting process. The new system is similar to the one the county uses now but it comes with added upgrades and security measures.

With Printelect’s system, voters will still fill out a paper ballot and place it in a DS200 scanner/tabulator. There, the ballot will be scanned and recorded before it’s sent to a locked box within the device. The scanner/tabulator can read each ballot with or without write-in votes and whether it is inserted face-up or face-down.

“This is a continuity of service,” Tate said. “This is the same provider of election equipment that we have now. This (simulation) will let them (observers) know that their voting experience in the county is not going to change.”

The new machines will cost the county $100,545, replacing current ballot scanners/tabulators purchased in 2006. The 18 new tabulators will be located at Pasquotank’s nine voting locations. The county received a $16,000 credit for its old scanners.

Pasquotank commissioners have approved buying the new election equipment. However, before the deal can be completed the state requires the county to first test the equipment.

“This is part of the state board’s process we have to follow,” Tate said.

Tate said the elections board considered testing several of the machines last November but the decision to select Printelect came too close to the election. Instead, the county board of elections opted to run a simulated election, which is allowed by the state.

“We are going to run a lot of ballots to simulate a regular election,” Tate said.