Virginia is putting a stop to electronic poll booths

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Rob Manch - ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - For many people in southwest Virginia, the voting equipment may look a little "outdated" when you head to the polls this November.

The commonwealth is putting a stop to electronic poll booths that link to the internet which is causing registrars in both the city and the county of Roanoke to opt for paper ballots.

Delegate Sam Rasoul said that's because their electronic counterparts had problems.

"The technology that we have now, not only is it vulnerable to outside influence, but it is also not as reliable as we would hope."

As a member of the house privileges and elections committee Rasoul said he's seen the problems first-hand.

Last year at a Virginia Beach voting booth, he said the win-vote machine didn't select the correct candidate.

In Roanoke County, registrar Judy Stokes said she's already made the switch, but it wasn't cheap. "They appropriated 370,000 and that includes the scanners, extras, and the ADA portion of the equipment, which is a touch screen for handicapped people, and also for voting booths, we had to purchase the booths where people can go to mark their ballots."

The city has also made the switch to the new machines.

However, both localities are paying for the transition all on their own without help from the state. "It is frustrating. i will say local governments are getting used to this unfunded mandate type of stuff," said Roanoke vice mayor David Trinkle.

Trinkle said these machines may also only be temporary, and he's worried about future costs.

Rasoul said he understands the pain on the local level, but the decision has been made. "It's certainly hundreds of thousands of dollars that Roanoke city is having to pay to make the transition, so it's rather unfortunate in tight fiscal times that yet another unfunded mandate has been passed down to the localities".

Stokes also said on the new voting ballots, if a pen makes any stray marks in more than one box, the voter may have to completely re-do it, which could take extra time at the voting booth, but regardless, state officials said this system should be in place for the next 10 years.

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