New voting system used for municipal election in St. Joseph County

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - St. Joseph County’s new touch-screen voting system was among the Election Day “winners.”

Tuesday marked the first time the new machines were used on Election Day, although they have been used in the past for absentee voting.

The new system was purposely rolled out during the municipal election, in which voter turnout traditionally is a fraction of what it would be during next year’s presidential election.

“There’s never going to be a time where everything goes perfect, but the good thing is we’ve got great machines that we’re implementing, people will get used to those, the process will get easier,” said Catherine Fanello, the St. Joseph County Election Board president.

While the new touch-screen system passed the test, it did not ace the test.

There were some connectivity problems with certain electronic poll books and some human errors.

“What you saw us doing in there was, we actually had to go retrieve some information because a poll worker left the flash drive behind,” Fanello explained.

Despite the forgotten thumb drives, at one polling place the system received a thumbs up and will be used for the 2020 presidential election.

“You can't expect to drive a new car and know everything about the car until you get used to it,” St. Joseph County Clerk Rita Glenn said. “Next year we'll be introducing all the machines to all the polling sites.”

Glenn says next year also includes plans to go to a vote center concept that would allow voters who now have to cast ballots at a designated polling place to cast future ballots in the polling place of their choice.

“We will not be getting rid of any polling sites for next year with it being a presidential, unless we feel that they are across the street from each other,” Glenn explained. “But the great thing is you'll be able to walk into any polling site and be able to vote for anybody. If it's on your way to work or on your way home from work.”

Plans also call for expanding the number of absentee or early voting sites from two to as many as four next year.