Election board busier than ever

Published 6:28 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2016

For the Lunenburg County Electoral Board it was back to the future when the county switched to paper ballots.

Donna Dagner, chairman of the electoral board, told the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors that the county is ahead of the curve by being among the 50 localities that have already made the state-mandated switch to paper.

The State Board of Elections banished the use of electronic voting machines over concern about the “integrity of the election process” in the state and mandated the switch to paper ballots by 2020.

Gone are the machines with which a voter was cast with just a push. Instead, in preparation for last November’s elections, Lunenburg County Registrar Carolyn Parsons and her office prepared eight different style ballots for the county — with each of the four school board districts getting their own ballot, as well as parts of the county in the sprawling 75th House of Delegates district.

It cost over $100,000 to make the switch from machines to paper. The money will help pay for increased travel by three elections board officials on Election Day to voting sites “to make sure they are conducting to election the way they are supposed to,” Dagner said. The additional funds for this year will carry the election board through July 1 and were necessary, in part, because the county had three elections this year. The county may be reimbursed from an election held last March.

In upcoming elections, the election board will also need at least one more person at each of the county’s 12 voting precincts, and even more people for presidential elections. The county prepares enough ballots for 85 percent turnout rate, but can handle it if turnout exceeds that, election officials said.