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Editorial: Procedural changes should improve Forsyth elections

Editorial: Procedural changes should improve Forsyth elections

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The Forsyth County Board of Elections has approved a new set of procedures to improve the workings of future elections, the Journal’s Meghann Evans reported last week. They seem reasonable. We hope these changes - which include new software, higher training standards and measures to safeguard ballots - work as intended.

This past November’s general election was marred by several problems. As a result, Steve Hines, the director of the Forsyth County Board of Elections, recommended changes to the elections board last month.

The elections office posted the recommendations online, where public feedback seems to have been healthy. Hines told the Journal that more than 30 people, including some precinct judges, responded.

Last week, the board of elections approved his recommendation of using a new software system to check in voters.

In the current system, an authorization-to-vote form is signed at the check-in table, then scanned, usually after the voter has cast a ballot – leaving the possibility of the scanning being done improperly. Hines identified this as a contributing factor to the inaccurate count in November.

The new software system Hines proposed would allow poll workers to completely check voters in while they are still at the check-in table, and register electronically, instantly, as the voter is present.

“I think these changes will really help us address some of the problems we encountered during last year’s election,” Chairman Ken Raymond said after the meeting.

The board also approved Hines’s recommendation of more training for poll workers, and gave him permission to negotiate with the county budget office for money to raise poll worker pay, among other changes.

Hines' office may be requesting as much as $1.4 million from the county to buy new elections equipment this year. That push is separate from the latest procedural changes, but commissioners will likely weigh those changes before making their decision on the equipment allocation.

Later this year, some of the county’s towns will hold municipal elections. That should give us an indication of how well many of these improvements, which should be in place by then, work. We definitely need to have all the kinks worked out before November 2016.


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