In a basement beneath the North Main Street Annex, the testing and zeroing-out of Bulloch County’s voting machines is underway, in preparation for early voting starting Oct. 17 and the Nov. 8 general election.
Election Supervisor Pat Lanier Jones and three citizens who are not regular county employees but help with elections started the “logic and accuracy” testing of the touch-screen voting machines at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. The process is repeated before every election. With 139 machines to be tested, the work would probably take through Wednesday afternoon but could continue Thursday, Jones said.
After unlocking the machines from the cases, the election workers insert memory cards programmed for the election.
“We put the cards in them, we run our checks and balances making sure that everything is running correctly on the units,” Jones said, explaining the testing at a recent Bulloch County Board of Elections meeting. “We do some testing, and if everything checks out we run our zero tape.”
After the close of voting on Election Day, each machine prints out a paper tape that shows the vote totals for each candidate or question. Summaries of these tapes are posted on precinct house doors and duplicates taken to the elections office, where they can be compared to the results produced when memory cards from the machines are tallied by a separate computer.
During the preparations being done this week, after the tests are performed, the machines and cards are cleared and “zero tapes” are printed to show that the vote totals are at zero.
Then Jones and her assistants sign a form for each machine, put a seal number on it, close and lock the machine and fasten a wire seal through a hole in the edge of the case.
“And it’s ready for Election Day,” she said.
Three early voting sites
The seals on some of the machines will be broken early, when in-person advanced voting begins Oct. 17.
For this election, there will be three early voting sites, but only one will be open for the full three weeks of early voting opportunity. There will also be one Saturday voting opportunity at two of the sites.
The Board of Elections and Registration area in the Bulloch County Annex at 113 N. Main St. will be available for voting 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, from Oct. 17 to Nov. 4.
The Honey Bowen Building at 1 Max Lockwood Drive will be available for early voting during the same hours Oct. 31 until Nov. 4.
Three days of early voting on the Georgia Southern University campus will be offered Oct. 25-27, also 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Saturday voting will available Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at both the Bulloch County Annex and Honey Bowen Building.
Paper absentee ballots can be mailed from the Sept. 20 until Nov. 4. Absentee ballot applications are available at the local elections office and online at the statewide My Voter Page, www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
Election Day, Nov. 8, all 16 Bulloch County precincts will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Jones reminds voters that Oct. 11 is the deadline to register to vote, or to change information such as names and addresses for those already registered.
This election features races for president of the United States, for one of Georgia’s two seats in the U.S. Senate, and for sheriff of Bulloch County. District 160 has a contest for its seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, and voters in Bulloch County Board of Commissioners District 2 will choose commissioners for both Seat 2A and Seat 2B.
The ballot also includes four proposed amendments to the state Constitution.
An individualized sample ballot can be viewed by registered voters who log in at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.