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Posted on: January 3, 2024

Town of Provincetown to Begin Using Electronic Vote Tabulator for Elections

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The Town of Provincetown recently purchased a state-of-the-art vote tabulator that will help increase election security and vastly improve and accelerate ballot counting and election result reporting. Provincetown voters will first use the new paper ballots and electronic tabulator during the Presidential Primary Election on March 5, 2024.

The new LHS ImageCast Precinct (ICP) Ballot is a ballot scanning device that uses hand-marked paper ballots that are then hand-fed into the scanner in order to cast the ballot. Notable changes begin with the physical ballot itself - voters will now mark their choices by "filling in the oval" instead of the previous method of marking the ballot with an X or check mark.

When voters cast ballots, the scanner pulls the ballot through a motorized feed and deposits the ballots into an integrated ballot box. The ICP device has tabulating capabilities, and when the polls close, the ICP prints out the race results and other information on a paper tape.

To prepare for this transition, Town staff and election workers will be receiving training on the new tabulator on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, in the Judge Welsh Room at Town Hall. Members of the public are invited to attend, ask questions, and cast sample ballots from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

The following is a step-by-step guide for how voters will cast their vote using the new ballots and ImageCast tabulator.

Getting Started:

  1. Sign in at the check-in table in the Auditorium at Town Hall as usual. An election worker will locate you in the poll ledger and guide you through the process.
  2. Receive a ballot and, if desired, an optional folder for added privacy.
  3. Head to a voting table/booth to confidentially mark your ballot.

Voting the Ballot:

  1. Use the provided marking pens to fill in the oval next to the candidate's name you are selecting.
  2. For a write-in vote, write a name in the box at the bottom of the column under the selected office.
  3. If you make a mistake, do not attempt to erase the mark. Return the ballot to the voter sign-in table for a voided ballot and a new one.

Completing the Process:

  1. Review your completed ballot to ensure you've voted for your chosen candidates.
  2. Take your finished ballot to the ImageCast Optical Scanner.
  3. Insert either end of the ballot into the scanner – forward, backwards, upside down, etc. If error-free, the ballot will be scanned and securely deposited in the locked ballot container.
  4. The scanner will tabulate the votes. In case of a recount, the ballots will be safely stored for further examination.
  5. If there are any errors, the LCD display screen on the tabulator machine will prompt you to return your ballot or make corrections.

Handling Errors:

  1. If you haven't filled in any ovals, the LCD display screen on the tabulator will alert you when you insert your ballot. You can choose to cast your ballot as is or return to a voting booth to complete your choices.
  2. In the case of over-voting (voting for more candidates than allowed), the LCD display will offer the option to return your ballot. You can choose to cast your ballot as is or return for a corrected one.

Checking Your Work:

  1. Mark your ballot by darkening the oval completely.
  2. Review your ballot before leaving the voting booth to ensure clear markings and no unintended marks.
  3. If you make an error, return your ballot to the voter check-in table for up to three replacements.
  4. For any questions or assistance, don't hesitate to ask an election worker.

Recognizing the historical significance of Provincetown’s manual ballot box, the Town will have it available in the Auditorium during elections so voters can still hand crank the old ballot box when getting their “I Voted” sticker.

“While we understand and respect the traditional way votes have been cast and counted in Provincetown, we believe it is time to move to a more modern and secure system,” said Town Manager Alex Morse. “Your vote matters, and we're dedicated to successfully implementing this new, more secure voting process to ensure the integrity of our elections as well as improve and accelerate ballot counting and result reporting.”

A video explaining the new voting process and electronic tabulator can be viewed below:

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