ANDERSON — Making sure Madison County’s voting machines work properly when voters begin streaming to the polls Tuesday morning is a bipartisan affair that began weeks ago.
That’s when a crew of 12 technicians — six Democrats and six Republicans — began checking, repairing and testing Madison County’s approximately 418 electronic touchscreen voting machines, which are stored at the Madison County Highway Department garage.
The process takes about two weeks and involves clearing vote results from previous elections, and checking internal backup systems and an emergency battery that kicks in if there’s a power failure at any of the county’s precinct voting sites, said Greg Casto.
“Each machine is tested to make sure it has no votes on it,” he said. “There are a lot of rumors we hear every year that you can hack into these machines with a computer, but that’s not the case because they’re not connected to the Internet.”
Madison County bought the iVotrontic touchscreen voting machines from Election Systems & Software in 2006 after the contested 2000 presidential election in Florida introduced the term “hanging chads” to the world. Like Florida, until then Madison County used a punch-card ballot with results tabulated by computer.
The system cost $1.5 million, most of which was financed through the federal Help America Vote Act that was passed following the contested election in Florida.
In 2012, the Board of County Commissioners approved a four-year $712,200 maintenance agreement for the devices.
“They’re remarkably good,” said James Brizendine, another technician who helps maintain the voting machines. “We’ve had almost no problems with them.”
Nevertheless, Brizendine and Casto said they and other technicians will be monitoring polling sites and responding to technical issues that may arise.
At training sessions last week in the Madison County Government Center and two other locations in Madison County, veteran and new poll workers received a refresher course in how to set up and operate the devices.