With early voting underway for the March 3rd Presidential Primary, the Hamilton County Election Commission is preparing to implement a new process that officials said will revolutionize the way ballots are printed for early voting.
Hamilton County Election Administrator Kerry Steelman said this will not happen during the current early voting period; however, plans are underway to roll out the new process with early voting for the August primary.
Mr. Steelman said there is a unique ballot for each of the county’s 135 voting precincts, and registered voters can cast ballots at any one of the count's four early voting sites. He said that makes it very challenging to cost-effectively approximate the number of ballots needed per precinct at each site. As a result, he said, to mitigate the risk of running low on ballots at any one site, the election office must order a large amount of pre-printed ballots for each of the four early voting locations.
He said the new process to be put into place during early voting for August will print a ballot for each voter as they arrive to cast their vote. Plans are to deploy two "certified" mobile ballot printers to each of the early voting sites - as well as two backup printers per site.
He noted this new process will only be used during early voting and not on Election Day.
Mr. Steelman said over the course of an election year Hamilton County will realize a substantial savings in ballot expense due to reduced ballot printing costs and the elimination of excess ballots.
At the same time, the election office is proceeding with plans to upgrade its election maintenance system which serves as the “brains” of its election infrastructure.
Mr. Steelman said, "This update to the system server and server software will ensure the Election Commission maintains the latest standards in security and reliability."