Melissa Wellhausen

Page County Auditor Melissa Wellhausen

(Clarinda) -- Page County voters will encounter some slight changes at the polls in Tuesday's Iowa Primary.

One of the changes involves new touch screen voting technology for handicapped individuals. County Auditor Melissa Wellhausen discussed the machines on KMA's "Morning Line" program Monday morning.

"The Freedom Vote tablets are targeted for the hearing and visually impaired," said Wellhausen. "However, anybody can choose to use them. We have had a lot of people at the counter (in her office) choose to use them during absentee voting. If anybody knows how to use an iPad, or tablet, or even a cell phone, they swipe those types of things. And also, for the hearing and visually impaired, they also have Screen Leader, which assists those types of individuals, as well."

Wellhausen says the new equipment makes it easier for the hearing and visually impaired to vote.

"The Screen Leader that the machine offers is very much, from our understanding, that the ADA is saying those individuals prefer," she said, "and that they use. So, if any of those individuals are using an iPad, or any sort of an electronic device, they're familiar with that. So, it just makes the process that much easier for them. As well, it makes it so they have the opportunity to vote independently."

Wellhausen adds each precinct will still have the regular voting equipment on hand, as well. Like other auditors, Wellhausen is also reminding voters of the new voter identification laws. Page County is participating in the state's "slow rollout" of the new regulations, requiring voters to bring a driver's license or non-operator I-D, a U.S. passport, military or veteran's I-D, or a voter identification card to the polls. Wellhausen says there's been some confusion over the voter I-D cards.

"Only the individuals who do not have a valid I-D, or a non-operator I-D at the time these were issued, were sent one of these," said Wellhausen. "In Page County, there was about 120 individuals, and then some of those were actually returned. So, as you can see, most people have their driver's license, or non-operator I-D, which is what they will use at the polls."

Wellhausen hopes the new law doesn't keep voters away from the polls.

"We hope everybody will still get out and choose that right to vote," she said. "It's a change in the system, a change in the process. It's here now, and we have to move forward."

However, the lack of contested county races may be a factor in Page County voter turnout. Wellhausen says only 75 absentee ballots had been returned to her office as of Monday. Polls in Page and other counties will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.