Machine shows voters their ballot selections

Candy Neal/The Herald

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Voters have the opportunity to be sure they have selected who they wanted to choose on the ballot.

After making their selections, they will see a printed piece of paper scroll into view, listing their selections.

This paper is in what is called a voter verifiable paper audit trail machine, or VVPAT.

“This should give a person more peace of mind that the machine is capturing the vote as they are casting it,” Dubois County Clerk Amy Kippenbrock said.

A state law passed last year stated that by 2029, there has to a verifiable paper trail of votes, which is the reason there are VVPAT machines. The state gave the county 30 VVPAT machines. Microvote, the company that provided and services the county’s electronic voting machines, loaned the county at no charge enough VVPATs so that every voting machine in Dubois County has a VVPAT attached.

“I thought it was a perfect opportunity for everybody to get a chance to see them,” Kippenbrock said. “I think it should be in front of people. It's more about the voter, and letting them verify [their selections] and have faith in our system.”

The machine is a black box that sits behind the voting machine to the right. The paper that shows through the front window is blank.

The voter makes their selections using the direct record electronic, or DRE, voting machine. “This is the same machine we voted on for several years,” Kippenbrock said. “It is a push button, not a push screen. Now that we've become a digital world, people want to push the screen. That is one obstacle that we continue to talk about with voters when they are at the booth.”

When a voter is done with making selections, he or she hits the button next to “verify vote.”

The paper in the VVPAT screen will scroll forward to show a printout of the selections the voter made. “This will show you what the machine is recording,” Kippenbrock said. “It should be all the selections that you have made on the machine.”

If there is more than one page to review, the sheet will say at the end “page one of two.” The voter hits the button next to “approve,” and the paper will scroll forward to show the rest of the voter’s selections.

Once the red light near the red “cast your vote” button comes on, the voter can hit the red button to submit the ballot. The paper then scrolls inside the box and out of everyone’s view.

“The next voter doesn't see who my selections were; it’s still secret,” Kippenbrock said. “The other thing kept secret is that the piece of paper doesn't have anything that identifies me. So my choices are still secret, even after the fact.”

No one gets a printout of the paper, not even the voter.

“It stays in this machine,” Kippenbrock said, “because we'll use that if there is ever a recount.”

If there was a recount or a limited audit done later, no one looking at the papers will be able to attach a paper ballot to a particular voter. “I as the clerk, or anybody else looking at that would not know,” she said.

If a voter looks at their printed selections and determines that he or she wants to change something, the voter has an opportunity to do that one time. The voter can hit the button next to “void paper” on the voting machine screen. It will ask if the voter wants to void and return to voting; the person can hit yes and it will go back to the ballot for the voter to see his or her selections and make wanted changes.

But a voter can do that only once. If the voter tries to void the selections a second time, he or she will cancel the ballot and cannot vote again. No one has done this, Kippenbrock said. But she wants to make sure that people don’t.

“Please ask questions,” she said. “Ask questions if you are confused on what’s happening.”

Ultimately, the paper rolls will be sealed in an envelope, put in a box and locked away, just like other election materials that have to be stored. If there is no recount, the materials are kept for 22 months after the election.

And none of the machines, DRE or VVPAT, are connected to the internet. “If somebody feels like this is going to get hacked or that someone else can interfere with this electronically through the internet, that's not an option,” Kippenbrock said. “This is not Bluetooth capable. It doesn't connect to Wi-Fi. It's not connected to the internet. It is all recorded here inside of this machine.”

So far, the feedback on the VVPAT machines has been pretty positive.

“People have said, 'I'm really glad that I get to see that the machine is doing and recording the choices that I really made,'” Kippenbrock said. “If there was ever any doubt that this machine was doing what it was supposed to be doing, this proves it.”




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