Friday, December 9

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

Illinois expanded access to voters in wake of 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 remains true blue on the partisan spectrum, and voters will benefit greatly from that the next time they go to the polls.

Danville’s voters, however, will encounter an even better treat the 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 isn’t on the leading edge of voting technology, The majority of Illinois polling places have touch-screen voting now and have 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 in bringing touch screens to polling places, let’s just say, better late than never.

To those who will be up in arms at this change of process, 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 opt to use it. The touch screens are easy to read and use and are not intimidating in the least. And remember, most of Illinois, not to mention other states, having been using this type of technology for quite a while.

The Danville Election Commission purchased 15 touch screens for $70,000 and will put them to use 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 the touch of a finger to the screen. They are Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, with headphones available for someone 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 also can go back to a previous page by pushing “previous.” If voters want to do write-in votes, they touch the write-in option and use the on-screen keyboard to enter the write-in name. Then the voter would touch “accept.”

When selections are made and verified, the voter will touch “print card” to print the completed ballot onto the activation card. The voter then takes the ballot card, as occurred with ballots in the past, to insert 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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