Wellfleet to Ditch Wooden Ballot Box for Modern Machine

WELLFLEET – The old wooden box used to collect ballots in Wellfleet is going to be a thing of the past.

The town’s Select Board voted last week 3-2 to purchase an electronic tabulator for $5,200 after town meeting authorized $7,000 for the machine back in 2015.

Interim Town Clerk Jennifer Congel says the machine is self-contained and not connected to the internet.

“It just counts the votes. We’ll still use paper,” Congel said. “It’s just we are getting help counting. It’s pretty much the same process.”

Instead of a manual hand crack and a wooden box, the new machine will count votes as soon as ballots are inserted.

“It’s really going to help us get an accurate count,” Congel said. “It’s also going to be able to help us to report to the news agencies a lot sooner than we have in the past, which had been typically the next day.”

Congel said her office should be able to disseminate results from the town within two hours after the polls close.

Congel said she was told that during the last presidential election workers were counting ballots and did not leave until around 3 a.m.

She believes the new machines will cut done on mistakes.

Congel said she is looking forward to working with the company that tabulator is being purchased from.

“They have great customer service and support and they will be there for every election that I need them,” Congel said. “They have a proven track record.”

Many communities in Massachusetts use the same product and are transitioning over to the company’s newer machine, which will be the model purchased in Wellfleet.

“It is reported that it’s an excellent company to work with.”

Select Board members Michael DeVasto and Helen Miranda Wilson voted against purchasing the machine and felt it was an unnecessary cost.

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