Voting officials, politicians and community volunteers were doing their part Saturday at the Brewer Complex to educate the public about the new voting machines.
During a voter registration drive, sponsored by the Brewer High School National Alumni Association, the community was introduced to the new machines, while also having an opportunity to register to vote and talk with local representatives.
“It’s important that people can come out and put their hands on the new voting machine and know how to use it so, when they go down to the polls, they won’t be frightened by seeing the two machines,” said Greenwood County Councilwoman Edith Childs. “We’ve never had to put it in one machine and then come over and feed it into another machine. We just did everything on that one machine. To educate people, they need to come out and do hands-on.”
Following the caucus debacle in Iowa, which saw the Democratic presidential primary results delayed by two days, officials here are hoping to head off any troubles by familiarizing people with how to use the new machines.
Bill Robinson, a Fox Sports announcer with Sunny 103.5, said he promoted Saturday’s event on the radio during the past two weeks.
“To be able to come out here and practice when there is no pressure and not a long line of people behind you is important,” he said. “It’s better to do it now when there is no pressure. It’s not bad. It’s not bad at all, but, to a lot of people — and to the elderly people — it’s going to scare them. They need to come out to events like this and go through it before it’s time to vote.”
People who registered to vote Saturday are not able to vote in the Feb. 29 presidential primary, but they will be ready to go for the general election in November.
Melissa Webb, center director at the Brewer Complex, said she also was interested in familiarizing herself with the voting machines.
“It’s a chance to get familiar with the machine and know what to expect when it comes time to vote,” she said. “I think young people need to be involved. I think all people need to be involved so they can be aware how to make the correct vote for the individual they voted for.”
Sabrina Miller, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club, brought her daughter with her. Learning about the voting machines was a big reason she participated.
“I think the value is having it available to the community so they can see firsthand and they won’t be intimidated by it,” she said. “When the time comes to cast their ballot, they’ll be very familiar with it. I think it’s also about education, so that you can talk a little bit about the importance of voting and what our vote does, whether it’s local or national vote. And just to make sure people understand the value of voting.”
Like Webb, Miller also sees the importance of exposing young people to the process.
“I think it’s important for our youth to see how this works and how our democracy works,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons we wanted to do it at Brewer because we have a lot of kids who come through here. This would be an opportunity for them to see it.”