Louisiana is going more high-tech in its registering and verifying the results of those who vote absentee by mail, state elections officials said Monday.
The new digital scanning system for paper ballots will be used for the first time in the Oct. 22 statewide elections.
The new machines store a digital image of the votes and provides an audit of the ballot that would prove it is being read accurately, state Elections Commissioner Angie Rogers said.
Absentee vote counting machines do not take a picture of the ballot now, she said.
Absentee voters will notice a change because they will no longer receive separate ballots for each race or election proposition, Rogers said.
All races will be consolidated on one page — front and back — or at most two pages for big elections, she said.
Rogers said that will also help members of parish Boards of Election Supervisors when it comes to counting absentee ballots. It will cut down on ballots that must be scanned, she said.
“They will be handling less paper,” Rogers said.
The machines will also help if a question arises as to whether an individual had intended to vote in a specific race as it registers ballot markings, she said.
The absentee voting scanned results will flow into the main election system which registers early and Election Day voting, Rogers said.
The elections agency started distributing the 110 machines to every parish Monday. Registrars of voters and election boards are getting training in the operations of the new absentee vote scanners.
The $2.5 million cost of the ImageCast Central machines was paid for with a grant through the federal Help America Vote Act.
Those who vote absentee are generally those out of state or town on Election Day, college students who are out of town, the military, people who work offshore and those over age 65 who have enrolled in a state program that allows them to vote absentee, Rogers said.