Voting machines pass test as they are prepped for primary

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ST. THOMAS - Elections board members in each district certified the DS200 voting machines Thursday evening in preparation for Saturday's primary election.

In St. Thomas, a large crowd turned out to watch four board members feed paper ballots into the scanning machines. The observers peered over the testers' shoulders and occasionally asked questions about the process.

On St. Croix, very few members of the public came out; however, all seven board members were there to test the machines.

On St. Thomas, district board of Elections chairman Arturo Watlington Jr. explained to the crowd the process for testing the machines. Each board member present - Lydia Hendricks, Claudette Georges, Alecia Wells and Watlington - fed 32 filled-in ballots into each one of the 22 voting machines to ensure that they scanned the ballots correctly.

Saturday's primary will be the first election to use the new machines and the new voting system. Unlike the old electronic voting machines, voters will complete a paper ballot by filling in ovals next to a candidate's name.

They then will take their ballot over to the DS200 machine and feed it into the tray. The machines can read it no matter which way it is fed into the machine.

If there is a problem - such as over-voting or under-voting in a particular race - the machine will ask the voter whether they would like to take the ballot back and fix it or cast the ballot anyway.

Once the ballot is cast, it is dropped into a locked bin located underneath the feeder tray.

The vote is recorded on an encrypted jump drive, which also is locked within the machine until the polls close.

After a machine is done accepting votes for the day, the poll judge will close out the machine, and it will print out a paper tally recording all the votes.

"The report should match the jump drive, which should match the ballots in the box," Hendricks told observers.

Those who came out to watch the testing seemed satisfied with the process and appreciated the public testing and certification.

"It's necessary and it's transparent," St. Thomas resident Cecil Thomas said. "It makes sense."

Today is the last day to vote by walk-in ballot, Watlington said.

All walk-in and mail-in absentee ballots currently are kept in locked boxes, and the boards in each district will begin counting them Sunday.

The last day to get mail-in ballots is Aug. 12, at which point the final ballots will be counted and the election will be certified by each district board.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email all polling places will be open for the primary election on Saturday, and many polling sites have been combined. The primary polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and are located at:

St. Croix

- Juanita Gardine Elementary School

- Ricardo Richards Elementary School

- St. Croix Educational Complex

- Alexander Henderson Elementary School

- Pearle B. Larsen Elementary School

St. Thomas

- Addelita Cancryn Junior High School

- Gladys Abraham Elementary School

- Charlotte Amalie High School

- Tutu Park Mall

St. John

- Julius E. Sprauve School

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