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From Tippecanoe County, a look at new voting machines

The following reports from contributing writer Dave Bangert were first published in his Substack newsletter, Based in Lafayette, Indiana.  

The MicroVote Infinity Voting System, the county’s new $1.5 million push-button system, will receive its first official votes Tuesday, April 5, the opening day of early voting ahead of the May 3 primary.

On Tuesday, a public test of the machines showed no problems.

 “They seem to be working well,” Randy Vonderheide, one of three election board members, said. “Now, we’ll see how people adjust to something new.”

The county bought the new system, featuring a voter-verified paper audit trail, in 2021 with state funding. They’ll replace the TSx touchscreen machines in service since 2006.

The county opened a mock polling place in September, shortly after the machines arrived, to give voters a chance to try them. The crowd that day, largely made up of veteran poll workers, elected officials and people with party ties, gave the system decent reviews.

The biggest difference will be the push-button operation and a voter verifiable paper audit trail. Once a voter checks in, an election official puts a card in the machine, verifies that the voter has the correct ballot and then steps away. The buttons running down the sides of the machines correspond to candidate names and voter propositions on a screen.

Before casting a final ballot, voters will get a paper preview of their selection. The paper rolls up like a receipt under Plexiglas. Voters have a chance to make changes at that point. Voters don’t take those paper receipts with them. Once a final ballot is cast, the paper is coded and rolls into the machine, where it is stored for review, as needed, later. Election officials offload electronic data about votes cast from each machine on Election Night. The machines are not connected to each other or to the internet.

About the election: The May 3 primary will decide which candidates make the November general election in congressional. General Assembly, assorted county and township seats, precinct committee positions and delegates to the state party conventions. Voters may ask for either a Democratic or Republican ballot at the polling place.

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