Montgomery Implements New Voting System

sample ballot
sample ballot

It's crunch time for election officials in Alabama. The November general election is just three weeks away. And in Montgomery, that means even more work.

Montgomery county was one of only three counties in the state required to implement an entirely new voting system.

Until now, Montgomery had large voting booths, in which people punched a button to cast their ballots -- not anymore.

"That particular piece of equipment did not provide for a paper audit trail," explained Montgomery Election Director Trey Granger.

A paper audit trail is what's required by the new federal Help America Vote Act, which was passed by congress after the presidential election debacle in Florida six years ago.

Granger says voters will now receive a paper ballot, on which they should fill in the oval next to the candidate of their choice. The county will provide an appropriate pen and any necessary assistance to the disabled.

Granger reiterated that the oval has to be completely filled in. "A check, a circle or a highlight just won't work," he said. "It's just like a standardized test when you and I were in school."

When you're finished, you feed your ballot into a tabulating machine, which is designed to recognize the filled-in oval and record your vote.

The entire system cost Montgomery County about $2 million (or about $16 per voter). Most, if not all of that cost, should eventually be paid for by the federal government.

The probate judge's office is mailing out flyers and brochures to make sure voters understand the new process.

In addition to instructions, the brochures feature a photograph of Probate Judge Reese McKinney, who is running for re-election.

McKinney's opponent complained that the brochures were actually government-funded campaign materials. But the state attorney general disagreed.

Reporter: Mark Bullock