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Gorbea says new voting machines ready for Election Day

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea demonstrates Rhode Island's new voting machines. (WJAR)

With the presidential election about a week away, Rhode Island's new million-dollar voting machines will be put to use again.

The 590 new voting machines are replacing the ones Rhode Island used to have, dating back to 1997. The machines came after Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea advocated for new technology to modernize elections in Rhode Island, which cost taxpayers about $1.4 million for the voter machines and maintenance.

"We were able to put money in the budget to purchase these new machines, and we used them in the September primary," said Gorbea. "Everybody loved them. They worked flawlessly. I'm really excited to get more voters to see them."

While voters will still cast paper ballots, voters will fill in an oval instead of connecting an arrow this general election. The new fill-in ovals means "straight-ticket voting" -- also called "straight-party voting" -- is no longer an option. Voters will have to select each candidate one by one.

The voting machines will process the newly "cleaned up" ballots with a faster user-interface that's operated on an encrypted wireless network.

The new machines will give results even quicker on election night.

"It's very fast," said Gorbea. "We had for the primary, almost all of the results in the first half hour."

Gorbea said the new technology comes with four back-up security systems to make sure every vote is counted and kept safe.

More than 445,000 Rhode Islanders voted in the 2012 general election, and Gorbea said she hopes even more will turn out this year.

"These machines will absolutely count your ballots very quickly, and I think you'll find Election Day will be very smooth," said Gorbea.

City and town boards of canvassers will also get printers that will make ballots on demand, so there is never a shortage of ballots at any polling place.

There will also be same-day voter registration available for those who only want to participate in the presidential election.

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