Mercer County will try out new voting machines in school bond referendum vote Dec. 11

New voting machines will be used in one of the four polling locations in the special election next Tuesday, Dec. 11 in Princeton when voters cast their ballots for or against the proposed $27 million public schools bond referendum .

Mercer County officials said the new machines will create a verifiable paper trail. The voting machines are on loan from Dominion Voting Systems, a state-certified voting machine manufacturer. The machines are part of a statewide effort to enhance voting security, officials said.  The trial to use the machines is part of a statewide pilot program.

Dominion voting machines will be used at Johnson Park Elementary School on Rosedale Road.

The technology allows a voter to fill out an oval marking the vote and then feed the ballot into a scanner. The paper ballot is then retained for verification.

Mercer County election officials said they chose the Dominion machine from among several state certified voting machines because it allows for a hand-marked paper ballot to be made by the voter. Advocacy groups have sought voting machines with a paper trail for many years.

By using state-certified voting machines with a paper trail, the county will be eligible for a $100,000 state grant toward the purchase of new voting machines, officials said. The money will come from a $9.76 million state grant to upgrade some voting machines that have been criticized as vulnerable to hacking.

After the special election, Mercer County officials will participate in an audit on the trial and provide feedback to the New Jersey Division of Elections.

Mercer County is the fourth county in the state to participate in this pilot program out of 21 counties. Essex, Union and Gloucester piloted state-certified voting machines in the 2018 November general election.

County officials said they are working with local officials to ensure that poll workers are prepared and trained to use the new system. Dominion will also provide on-site assistance on election day.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the special school bond referendum on Dec. 11. Only four locations will be used for the special election. All the polling locations are schools. Following is where each voting district will vote:

Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 – Johnson Park School, 285 Rosedale Road .

Districts 5, 9, 10, 11, 21, and 22 – Community Park School, 372 Witherspoon Street

Districts 7, 8, 12, 17, 18, 19 – Riverside School , 58 Riverside Drive West

Districts 13, 14, 15, 16, and 20 – Littlebrook School, 39 Magnolia Lane