EAST ROCKHILL — One of the county's current big focuses is this year's switch to new voting machines, newly-elected Bucks County Commissioner Bob Harvie said at the Jan. 28 East Rockhill Township Board of Supervisors meeting.
"I'm starting to make my way around the different municipalities," he said, "to sort of introduce myself."
Harvie said he is a life-long Bucks County resident who was born and raised in Bristol Borough, was a public school teacher for 26 years and served on the Falls Township Board of Supervisors for 16 years.
He said he'd like to see meetings set up between municipalities in different parts of the county for the municipal officials to share ideas.
Beginning with this year's primary election, which will be on Tuesday, April 28, each of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania are required to have voting machines with verifiable paper records.
This will be the first year the new machines are being used in Bucks County elections.
"The way I've been describing them to people, if you're not really familiar with it, is it's kinda like going back to school," Harvie said. "You're just filling in the little bubbles like you did on the tests back in school."
The filled-in ballot is then put through an optical scanner, the voter confirms their vote, the vote is recorded by the machine and the paper ballot goes into a bag attached to the machine, he said.
"Every vote is kept, so if there's any break-down of the machine or question about the count, you have the paper ballot," Harvie said.
If there is an error, such as if the person filled in votes for two candidates where there was only one seat open, the machine will signal that and the voter can make a change to the ballot, he said.
"It is a pretty simple machine," Harvie said, "but obviously it's new."
That can be a little scary for some people, he said.
Training sessions are being held for voters to see ahead of time how the machines work, he said.
The schedule for training sessions is available on the Bucks County website. Pennridge area sessions include the Sellersville firehouse on March 3 and Upper Bucks campus of Bucks County Community College on April 21.
"It's obviously something new for us. It's not necessarily new for other parts of the country, but it's new here in Bucks," Harvie said of the new voting machines.
"It should roll out very smoothly, we hope," he said. "We're committed to making it go well."
In answer to a question from East Rockhill board member Jim Nietupski about write-in votes, Harvie said the machine scans and reads those.
"At the end of the night it spits out what looks like a receipt that you get at the supermarket or anywhere else you go," he said.
That includes the write-in votes, he said.
The training sessions posted Jan. 15 on the Bucks County website are:
• Feb. 24, 5 to 8 p.m. , Bucks County Technical High School, 610 Wistar Road, Fairless Hills
• Feb. 25, 1 to 4 p.m., Quakertown Branch, Bucks County Free Library, 402 W. Mill St., Quakertown
• February 26, 5 to 8 p.m., Bensalem Municipal Building, 2400 Byberry Road, Bensalem
• March 3, 5 to 8 p.m., Sellersville Fire Department Hall, 2 N. Main St., Sellersville
• March 6, 5 to 8 p.m., Bucks County Administration Building, 55 E. Court St., Room R110, Doylestown
• March 10, 1 to 4 p.m., Bensalem Municipal Building, 2400 Byberry Road, Bensalem
• March 17, 5 to 8 p.m., Bucks County Community College, Newtown Campus, 275 Swamp Road, Newtown
• March 23, 5 to 8 p.m., Bucks County Administration Building, 55 E. Court St., Doylestown
• March 30, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Ben Wilson Senior Activity Center, 580 Delmont Ave., Warminster
• April 7, 1 to 4 p.m., Juniper Village at Bucks County, 3200 Bensalem Blvd., Bensalem
• April 16, 5 to 8 p.m., Bucks County Community College, Lower Bucks Campus, 1304 Veterans Highway, Bristol
• April 21, 5 to 8 p.m., Bucks County Community College, Perkasie Campus, One Hillendale Road, Perkasie
All the tabulated and scanned images from the voting machines are kept in a secured data base and do not touch the Internet, information on the county website says.