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Dear Votemaster: I still don’t trust those blasted electronic voting machines!

Is there a paper ballot I can use to ensure my vote is counted during the upcoming primary?

A reasonable concern, at least for anyone who’s ever had their electronic equipment go haywire on them for no reason at all (and yes, we’re talking about you here, Washington City Paper computers).

In addition to the iVotronic touch-screen equipment that will be deployed to voting locations across the city for the Sept. 14 primary—or are in place at early voting centers—voters will have the opportunity to cast a paper ballot if they so choose. But keep in mind that for anyone voting with the iVotronic machines, “a paper record of your selections is printed onto a paper log located on the bottom left of the voting equipment,” according to D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics voter guide. So the main concern people have about electronic machines—that there’s no proof of how you voted—should be mitigated.

Still, though the voting machines make it easy to go back, review, and change selections before casting your ballot, you can choose to cast a paper ballot and skip the machine altogether. With a paper ballot, you’ll use a pencil to fill in an oval next to the candidate of your choice.

When complete, you’ll feed your paper ballot into the M100 Optical Scanner, where your selections will be processed. In the case where you’ve made two choices in the same race, the scanner will flag the error and alert you. You’ll then have two choices:

  • Accept the ballot as is and void the race where the error was made
  • Return the ballot to the ballot clerk and request a new one. The original ballot will be deemed “spoiled.”
  • So, if everything goes according to plan, we should never hear the words “hanging chad” on Sept. 14. If only because here in D.C., we mark our paper ballots by filling in ovals, not punching out holes.