TOUCH-VOTE, THEN SCOOP THE MEDIA

After a dry run in the June primaries, Monmouth County plans to use touch-screen electronic voting machines for the first time in a general election on Tuesday.

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The change in technology means that returns will be made available via the Internet at the official Monmouth County website as they are gathered by election officials.

The county site will have a results page showing race results countywide and town-by-town as they come in following the close of polls at 8p. According to Monmouth County Clerk M. Claire French, the results will be updated every few minutes until all ballots are accounted for.

For voters eager to know race outcomes, that means no more waiting for the next day’s paper or other media to learn the election results. It’s democratization by Web at work.

“People will have access like never before for election results on election night,” says French.

Results by voting district, however, won’t be available this time. That’s still a goal, says a county spokesman.

Because the 950 machines being used are new, here’s how they work:

Instead of pulling a lever to cast a vote, users will make their selections on a touch-screen display, touching a button next to the name of the preferred candidate or the answer to a public question. A green X will light up to show the selection. Votes can be changed before all selections are submitted by simply touching the same button again, which turns off the green X.

For write-in votes (‘personal choice selections’ in the nomenclature of the the machines, as though other options were not personal choices), a keyboard is installed in each voting machine. Touch the ‘personal choice’ button on the same line as the office for for which you’re writing in a name. A blinking green X will appear. Then type in the name, using the arrow pointing right to make spaces, and the left arrow to make corrections. Check that you’ve spelled the name correctly, and press ‘enter’ on the keyboard.

After all selections have been made, push the red ‘cast votes’ button on the lower right of the display to submit your choices.

Polls are open from 6a to 8p.

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