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News and notes from City Hall, Bernalillo County and local politics

Voters in Bernalillo County, elsewhere to use new machines

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Voters in Bernalillo County and handful of other communities around the state will cast their ballots using new voting machines this year.

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said today that most people aren’t likely to notice much difference. They will still mark paper ballots and feed them into a machine that tabulates them.

But the new tabulators have bigger screens that make it easier to tell that the ballot has been accepted successfully, and the process is quicker, she said.

The county will hold mock elections on the next two Saturdays, allowing voters to mark fake ballots and try out the new machines.

“They’re positive changes,” Toulouse Oliver said in an news conference. But “we want to make sure the public is aware of them.”

The state bought the new machines for about $6 million, she said. They’ll be used in the June 3 primary election in Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia, San Juan and Doña Ana counties.

Toulouse Oliver said the machines may also accelerate the vote counting on Election Night. They have two memory cards, for example, giving election workers a backup if the first one fails.

Under the old system, ballots had to be re-fed through the machine to get a count.

There will also be some new voting locations this year in Bernalillo County.

The clerk’s annex, the first location to open each election cycle, will now be in the county’s Union Square building on Central Avenue, between Broadway and the railroad tracks. The old building, on Lomas, is now used entirely by a school.

To try out the machines, the mock elections are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday and March 29 in the clerk’s annex, 111 Union Square SE, and at the Daskalos shopping center, 5339 Menaul NE.

Early voting for the primary election starts May 6 in the clerk’s annex. Eighteen other locations open May 17.

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