(TNS) -- SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA -- The electronic voting machines used in Brunswick and Pender counties will be banned as soon as 2019, according to legislation signed by the N.C. General Assembly last year.
House Bill 836 defines a ballot as a paper document marked by a voter either by hand or electronically, meaning the strictly electronic voting machines used by Brunswick and Pender, as well as some of the ones in New Hanover, will be outdated.
All three counties are using the same machines this year that they did in 2012, which elections officials said could be a boost to them and, just as importantly, voters.
"Voters that have been in Brunswick County are used to them, so we don't have anything new on that front," said Sara Knotts, the director of Brunswick County's Board of Elections. "There's so much new in this election cycle, so that's not really new."
Using the existing machines, Knotts said, also means poll workers are familiar with them and know things like how long it should take someone to cast their ballot.
Brunswick has 305 iVotronic machines that will not be compliant when the new rules go into effect on Sept. 1, 2019, and Pender has 148.
The 70 Model 100 optical scan machines New Hanover uses as their primary machines on Election Day will still be allowed under the new legislation, while the 112 electric iVotronic machines used during early voting and offered to disabled voters will not be allowed, according to Derek Bowens, the director of the county's board of elections.
Brunswick has not yet chosen its path forward.
"We haven't really started looking at our options at this point," Knotts said. "In my mind, I'm kind of like, 'Lets get through the presidential elections and see what's out there.'"
iVotronic, which makes the machines used in Brunswick, also makes a similar one that has individual ballots, Knotts noted.
Once Brunswick and other counties set on a course of action for future elections, they will likely have a pilot program at one precinct and, if successful, that will become the model for the rest of the county.
©2016 the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.