New voting machines tested in RI primaries

Rhode Island's new voting machines made their debut in a primary with a light turnout Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. (WJAR)

Rhode Island's new voting machines made their debut in a primary with a light turnout Tuesday.

It was a practice run of sorts for the general election in November.

“I'm hearing good things,” Richard DuBois, who is the chairman of the Rhode Island Board of Elections, said. “I heard that the new machines performed great. Most of the precincts were in by 8:30, which is phenomenal.”

The machines are able to signal if a voter makes a mistake so it can be fixed. They also wirelessly transmit the results back to the Board of Elections.

When asked if the new machines are faster than the old ones, DuBois said, “Oh my god, it's the next age."

Poll Pads were also used on a trial basis in a few precincts. They are tablets used for electronic voter check-in and are meant to cut down on wait times.

The roll-outs come just weeks after the Board of Elections fired its executive director, Robert Kando, who had been suspended twice earlier in the year, including during the presidential primary.

Kando is now suing, fighting the firing.

Board members don't seem phased.

“We don’t really think about the past. We’re looking to the future,” Stephen Erickson said. “We’re very comfortable with where we’re at -- very comfortable.”

One of the criticisms of Kando is that he was slow to replace the old voting machines.

So, was his absence felt during Tuesday night’s operation?

“He was absent for the last election and it went well,” DuBois said. “And this one, with the new voter machines, and he's not here, it speaks for itself. It went real well.”

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