Marshall County commissioners and County Clerk Jan Pest are wise to be thinking of new election equipment - but even smarter to be moving slowly on the process.
No one wants a repeat of the problem that occurred last fall in Marshall County. For a time, it was believed then-incumbent County Commissioner Jason Padlow had been reelected. But it was learned mistakes had been made in the counting process, as a result of the equipment used. Instead of Padlow, Robert Miller Jr. had won the commission seat.
After that, Commissioners Don Mason and Brian Schambach signed an agreement with Padlow to make changes in the election process in Marshall County. New election equipment being considered now is not part of that, however, but is a general upgrade to improve the election process.
Pest, Mason, Miller and Schambach have been looking into new compuer software for use at polling places, they revealed this week.
Pest explained the new software is capable of recognizing voters' signatures. It can be used in place of the bulky voter registration books now utilized. The clerk says the new system should make it easier to verify voters' identities and keep track of whether they have cast ballots.
Signatures can be updated in the software - an important consideration because, with age and/or illnesses, voters' signatures can change substantially.
It sounds good, but so have any number of other ideas that proved unworkable in practice.
Commissioners and Pest are considering purchasing a few pieces of the new equipment, to be used for early voting in a primary election. That way they can gain experience with the new technology before purchasing signature-recognition equipment for all polling places.
Testing the new equipment in the relatively less risky environment of a primary election is prudent. Commissioners and Pest are to be commended for attempting to find new technology to hold elections more efficiently.