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Mount Airy switches to electronic voting

Fifteen minutes.

If everything goes as planned, that is how fast election ballots will be counted in Mount Airy this year.

For decades, counting election ballots by hand kept poll workers busy until 1 a.m., but this year on May 7 results are expected to be tallied in just 15 minutes, according to Town Clerk Debbie Parker Brennan.

The town is trading paper ballots for electronic voting machines.

Those machines come at a $2,800 rental fee, but they should save poll workers a lot of time.

“Unless something catastrophic were to happen, I foresee us continuing to do it this way,” said Bruce Walz, town board of elections chairman. “The town has always used paper ballots, and that’s a very cumbersome process.”

Walz said the board initially wanted to use Carroll County’s electronic voting machines, but scheduling conflicts forced them to consider other options.

The town decided to go with McAfee Election Services Inc. after Carroll County referred town officials to the company.

Brennan said Baltimore city, Thurmont and Prince George’s County have all used the company.

The company’s machines are designed to calculate votes and allow residents to write in a candidate if necessary.

Brennan said voters should not have a problem adjusting to the change.

“It will be very easy,” she said.

Walz agreed, noting that county and state elections already use electronic ballots.

Poll workers and candidates looking for more information about electronic voting machines are invited to an informational meeting at 6:30 a.m. on Election Day at the Fireman’s Activity Building.

In addition, pollsters will be at the polling station to explain how the machines operate, Brennan said.

Election clerks are needed to work this year’s election, according to the town’s website. Responsibilities include assisting residents, monitoring the polling place and voter check-in.

Clerks are expected to work from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and will be paid $8 per hour.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Fireman’s Activity Building, 1008 Twin Arch Road.

Those residents unable to vote on Election Day can fill out an absentee ballot, which will be available April 16 at Town Hall. Sample ballots are already available, Walz said.

For information, contact Town Clerk Debbie Parker Brennan at 301-829-1424.

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