Southampton marks adding a voting precinct with new voting machines

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  • Paul Balukonis of LHS Associates in New Hampshire tests one of the new ballot tabulators he delivered to Southampton Town Clerk Lucille Dalton, center, and assistant clerk Sabina McCarthy at town hall on Thursday. Based on the 2020 federal census, the state elections division has divided Southampton into two voting precincts. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Southampton Town Clerk Lucille Dalton reviews a map of the town’s new voting precincts at Town Hall last week. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A map showing the boundaries for the new voting precincts in Southampton. Based on the 2020 federal census, the state elections division has divided Southampton into two precincts. Photographed at town hall on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Southampton Town Clerk Lucille Dalton talks with Paul Balukonis (not shown) of LHS Associates delivering a new ballot tabulator system to town hall on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Paul Balukonis of LHS Associates in New Hampshire, tests one of the ImageCast Precinct 2 ballot tabulators, manufactured by Dominion Voting, that he delivered to Southampton Town Hall on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 2/15/2022 8:19:01 PM
Modified: 2/15/2022 8:17:07 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — The town has made a slight technological leap with the arrival of new voting machines, says Town Clerk Luci Dalton. 

Two Dominion Voting Systems ImageCast Precinct 2 tabulators were delivered to Southampton Town Hall this past week by Paul Balukonis, a training specialist from LHS Associates. The election services company is based in Salem, New Hampshire, and is a supplier of Dominion products. 

One of the new optical scan voting tabulators replaces an AccuVote system that’s over 20 years old. The second one fulfills state requirements on becoming a two-precinct town, which was officially certified by the state Elections Division on Dec. 31.

“We’re very excited,” Dalton said. “It’s going to be much easier for voters to cast their ballots.”

The state Elections Division divided the town into two voting precincts as a result of Southampton’s increase in population. According to the 2020 federal census, the town’s population climbed from 5,792 residents to 6,224 residents between 2010 and 2020. The town’s 7.5% increase in population was the highest percentage increase in Hampshire County.

When the population reaches 6,200 people, state law mandates that a town add a second precinct. 

Although the “re-precincting” process will not significantly impact voting the addition of a new precinct means an additional polling location, Dalton noted. One precinct will be voting in the first-floor meeting room of Town Hall and the other precinct will be voting at the Senior Center.

At this point, the town has a map of the two precincts, but Dalton says she’s still waiting on information from the state that will allow her to notify residents as to what precinct they’re in. The dividing line between the town’s two precincts runs down College Highway and cuts over to Brickyard Road. 

“One side of the street might be in Precinct 1, and one side might be in Precinct 2. … It’s important to verify the addresses for that,” she said.

In the meantime, Balukonis has begun providing training to Dalton and Assistant Town Clerk Sabina McCarthy on the new voting machines, which in total cost more than $15,000. Funding toward the purchase of the tabulators and ballot box was approved in two separate articles at the June and December Town Meetings. 

The new models are more secure than the previous model, and include a dust cover that locks as well as key fobs, Balukonis said. He described the new devices as “unbelievably accurate.”

The screen on the device was also previously 1-inch across, whereas the new devices include a 6-inch screen. 

“It’s easier to read and the machine will identify if there has been a misuse, such as over-marking a ballot or leaving an area blank, and gives them an opportunity to correct the issue,” he said. 

For over-voting, the voter’s ballot will be discarded or “spoiled” and placed into a folder, and the voter will be provided with a new ballot. 

In 2018, LHS Associates had to be called when a rainy day led to wet ballots and the scanning unit of the town’s voting machine getting jammed. 

“We had to count over 400 ballots by hand and we were counting until early the next morning,” Dalton said adding that the new device should be able to better avoid paper jams. 

Currently, there are eight poll workers lined up for town elections, but Dalton says she’ll be looking to double that number to accommodate the new precinct. 

Residents interested in working the polls can apply at townofsouthampton.org/employervolunteer/. To be eligible, applicants must be over 17 years old and available to work for at least four hours at a time. The position pays $14.25 per hour. 

The voter registration deadline for Annual Town Meeting is April 13, and voter registration deadline for the Annual Town Election is April 27. 

The annual town caucus will be held on Tuesday, April 5, at Town Hall at 7 p.m. The Annual Town Meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 3, at William E. Norris School at 7 p.m. and the town election will take place on Tuesday, May 17, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.


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