Voting will look a little different in 2016 with the voters using a fleet of new touch screen machines at five locations in and around Crawfordsville. Elections Clerk Karyn Douglas said the machines are easy to use and should be a smooth transition even for voters who are not tech savvy.

The Montgomery County Clerk’s Office will hold two public meetings regarding the switch to vote centers. Douglas, Clerk Jennifer Bentley and the Montgomery County Election Board will play host to the public meeting to give voters information about the switch-over and allow them to try a sample machine. The public meeting will be Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the Donnelly Room at the Crawfordsville Public Library. The January meeting will mark the beginning of the 30-day public comment period and the Feb. 8 meeting will mark the end of the period.

Douglas said she hopes the sample machine will ease some fears voters might have about touch screen machines and adapting to a new way of voting.

“It’s not scary, it really is not,” she said. “We hope people will come to the meeting and try and machine. Then they can go tell their friends to spread the word.”

For those used to using some of the few older touch screen machines the county has been using 1997, Douglas said these machines will be a much simpler for voters and poll workers. She said the machines will be faster and more adaptable. For example: if voters need a bigger font or higher contrast, the machine’s screen can be customized.

Douglas said the machines have several safe guards in place for accurate voting. She said the machines save the ballots electronically and print out a copy of each completed ballot. The machines also give the voters two chances to look over their ballot to make sure they have voted for the correct candidate.

The voting machines will not be the only computerized service at the polls, Douglas said there will also be an internet connected and computerized registration process. Poll workers can quickly find voters in the database and have them sign in electronically to speed up the process.

The new centralized polling locations will be located in Crawfordsville and the surrounding areas. Douglas knows that North Montgomery High School, St. Bernard’s Church and Friendship Baptist church will be locations, but she needs confirmation from two more sites. She said she hopes to confirm those sites by the Monday meeting.

With the county’s comparatively smaller population, Douglas does not think long lines at the polls will be nearly as big a problem as what was reported in Lafayette during Tippecanoe County’s switch-over.

“We don’t have the population that Lafayette does so we shouldn’t have hour long waits like they do,” Douglas said. “The key here will be voter education.”

If polls do get busy, Douglas said machines or voters can be moved to make shorter wait time. Since vote centers are not tied to residency of a certain township, any voter can vote at any center they please. If one center is busy voters can go across town and use another. The machines are also lightweight and easy to transport so machines can also be moved during voting day.

Douglas offered a few pieces of advice on how to be educated at the polls. She said voters should make sure that they are properly registered before going to the polls and they should have their identification ready. She said it would also be a good idea to review candidates and make a decision before stepping into the booth.

As always the courthouse and larger small towns will offer absentee in-person voting and absentee ballots will be available by mail.