The Times photo by Betsy Reason

Hamilton County Elections Administrator Beth Sheller shows a new voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system that was used on 23 voting machines in Hamilton County as a pilot during this municipal election. She said purchase of the machines would cost about $1 million.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason Hamilton County Elections Administrator Beth Sheller shows a new voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system that was used on 23 voting machines in Hamilton County as a pilot during this municipal election. She said purchase of the machines would cost about $1 million.
Hamilton County Elections Administrator Beth Sheller seemed relaxed as she worked her second Election Day in her new job.

Sheller, at the first of the year, replaced Kathy Kreag Williams, who was elected county clerk.

All polls opened as scheduled, and iPad-based electronic poll books, that were new a year ago, were working smoothly.
This municipal election, which had only 15 contested seats, was pretty uneventful.

“It was pretty quiet today,” said Sheller, who found it easy to get away from her duties just before the polls closed. “We keep busy in here,” she said.
“For a municipal election, we’ve had as low as 8 percent.” said Sheller. This year, 15.62 percent, or 34,571 of the 221,263 registered voters cast their votes in the Hamilton County elections. There were 4,599 walk-in absentee voters, 1,335 absentee by mail voters and 28,637 voters who cast their vote on Election Day, in a total 193 precincts at 109 sites in Hamilton County. “It was actually a little better than I expected,” she said.
On Election Day, Sheller said, “Everything went as planned.”
She was most thrilled about Hamilton County being one of four counties being chosen to participate in a pilot program for the use of a new voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system.

The system, provided by MicroVote, was placed on all early-voting machines and then on 23 voting machines at nine polling sites on Election Day in Hamilton County. “It’s actually a little contraption that’s hooked to the normal machine that we vote on. But it gives us a paper trail,” Sheller said of the box that’s placed just about the red “Cast Your Vote” button.
She was anxious to hear feedback and any problems. “They worked very well, and voters seemed to like it that we would have that paper trail,” she said.
Sheller showed one of the VVPAT machines that was connected to a voting machine in Precinct Noblesville 12 at the Judicial Center.

“When you vote, it shows you what candidates you vote for, and then when you confirm your vote, it goes where the next person can’t see it,” she said.

There was no cost involved with the pilot program. However, if the county would purchased the system, without help from the state, it would cost about $1 million. “I know that’s not in the budget for next year. I think it would be a great addition, if we could afford it.”

According to county clerk Kathy Kreag Williams, former elections administrator and former state representative, the State of Indiana, through the secretary of state’s office would allot enough money to purchase enough VVPATs for 10 percent of the voting machines, or 55 machines in Hamilton County at a cost of $99,000. According to the law, all voting machines must have a VVPAT by the year 2029. The cost for Hamilton County to purchase machines would be $879,000 to be compliant with state law.
Sheller said, “We don’t have to have them yet … But it was nice to be a pilot and to experience it.”

She said, “The voters liked the idea of the paper trail and also actually seeing in print their vote choices.”
-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.