VOT­ING

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of­fi­cials and poll work­ers, fol­lowed by a pub­lic-ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign to make sure vot­ers are ready to use the new sys­tem in fu­ture elec­tions.

Elec­tions of­fi­cials plan ed­u­ca­tional out­ings with vet­er­ans, neigh­bor­hood and church groups, and oth­ers — "any­place that will have us," said county elec­tions Di­rec­tor Ed Leonard.

There’s even a mockup of a precinct polling place at the board of elec­tions of­fice, a learn­ing lab that soon will be open to the pub­lic a few times a week to let vot­ers try the new sys­tem be­fore cast­ing real bal­lots.

In the mean­time, here are some facts and fig­ures you should know head­ing into lo­cal elec­tions this year and statewide and na­tional con­tests in 2020:

24 — The num­ber of months it took to de­ter­mine which elec­tions sys­tem to pur­chase. Five cer­ti­fied ven­dors’ wares were demon­strated and con­sid­ered.

In the end, Franklin County chose a hy­brid sys­tem that com­bines touch-screen and hand­marked op­tions, all in­volv­ing pa­per bal­lots and op­ti­cal scan­ners.

"It will give vot­ers the op­tion of vot­ing on pa­per if they’re more com­fort­able with that," Leonard said. "But they’ll also have the op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue vot­ing on a touch-screen elec­tronic sys­tem."

3,276 — The num­ber of new touch screens that elec­tions of­fi­cials plan to have on hand for the 2020 pres­i­den­tial pri­mary and gen­eral elec­tions.

That's fewer than the 4,735 vot­ing sta­tions in the old sys­tem. County of­fi­cials think they don’t need as many units with the new sys­tem, given the num­ber of peo­ple who opt to cast bal­lots early or who are ex­pected to mark their se­lec­tions by hand on pa­per bal­lots.

Of the new ma­chines, the ini­tial or­der in­cludes 2,072 bal­lot-mark­ing touch­screens that will be set up on table­tops at polling places and 506 touch­screens mounted in stand-alone, heigh­tad­justable kiosks.

The county will buy an­other 698 touch­screen units be­fore the 2020 pri­mary, Leonard said.

2 — The num­ber of op­tions while vot­ing in per­son.

With the old sys­tem, vot­ers made their se­lec­tions us­ing touch screens and then hit "cast" to for­mally sub­mit their bal­lot.

With the new sys­tem, not in­clud­ing mailed bal­lots sub­mit­ted by vot­ers or pro­vi­sional bal­lots cast by those whose el­i­gi­bil­ity is in ques­tion, there will be two op­tions for vot­ing in per­son.

The first in­volves the table­top touch screens — tech­ni­cally, bal­lot-mark­ing units, with vot­ers' elec­tronic se­lec­tions printed on a bal­lot card. For res­i­dents with dis­abil­i­ties or who oth­er­wise don’t want to han­dle pa­per bal­lots, height-ad­justable kiosks will be of­fered, with touch screens for mak­ing se­lec­tions and bal­lots di­rected into an at­tached, se­cure bin.

For those who pre­fer non-elec­tronic op­tions, printed pa­per bal­lots will be of­fered for them to mark se­lec­tions by hand.

DS200 — A bal­lot scan­ner and vote tab­u­la­tor that looks like a big trash con­tainer or re­cy­cling bin. The county bought 550 of them.

The tops flip up to re­veal a com­puter mon­i­tor and bal­lot slot. There will be at least one DS200 at ev­ery Franklin County polling place, and likely more at larger precincts. Af­ter mak­ing se­lec­tions by hand or us­ing touch­screens, vot­ers will be di­rected to the units to sub­mit their bal­lots.

355 — The num­ber of polling places in Franklin County, where reg­is­tered vot­ers in more than 860 precincts may cast bal­lots on Elec­tion Day.

It takes up to 3,500 poll work­ers to keep those polling places up and run­ning dur­ing coun­ty­wide elec­tions. And they’ll all have to be trained on the new sys­tem.

90 — In sec­onds, the time it takes for the new vot­ing ma­chines to boot up. The old units took 3 to 4 min­utes to be ready for vot­ers.

20 — A rough es­ti­mate of the per­cent­age of Franklin County vot­ers ex­pected to use the new sys­tem this year. Most won't be aware of the change un­til the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in 2020.

That’s just the na­ture of elec­tion cy­cles — odd-year bal­lots packed with lo­cal races with few statewide de­ci­sions draw fewer peo­ple to the polls.

In 2016, the last pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, about 70 per­cent of the 843,000-plus reg­is­tered vot­ers in Franklin County cast bal­lots. Con­trast that with the 2017 gen­eral elec­tion, when 23.7 per­cent of the 853,896 who were reg­is­tered voted.

[JOSHUA A. BICKEL/DIS­PATCH]

Scott Thomas, a lo­gis­tics tech­ni­cian, pre­pares to boot up new vot­ing ma­chines at the Franklin County Board of Elec­tions of­fice on Morse Road on the North­east Side.

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