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With early voting underway, Saline County is reporting a strong turnout for the first day.

According to Saline County Circuit Clerk Doug Curtis, 792 votes were cast yesterday in the 2020 preferential primary, nonpartisan general and annual school election.

393 votes were cast at the Vote Here Center along with 160 at New Life Church in Bryant, 170 at Bank OZK in Lonsdale and 69 at East Union Church at East End.

This is the first opportunity for the county to use the new election equipment that was recently acquired.

Curtis said the equipment will have a "more streamline process."

After voters check in, they will receive a blank ballot except for a barcode. Individuals will take the ballots, place it in the voting machines, cast their ballots and then feed the completed ballots in the tabulators, Curtis explained.

With the new equipment, Curtis said there should not be a line to vote and residents can come in and out quickly.

Throughout the election, the voting machines and tabulators are not connected to the internet which prevents hacking, he added.

“I got a comment today from a voter that said that they liked the process and that everything over there went smoothly,” said JP Mark Grimmett during Tuesday night’s Quorum Court meeting.

There have also been some changes made inside the Vote Here Center in Downtown Benton.

Windows in the front have been updated, as well as new paint on the inside and new lettering on the exterior of the building, Curtis said.

A door inside the building was also closed in and another door was added in a different location.

According to Curtis, the changes allow for more room for voting machines and more voter privacy.

“The Saline County Count Vote Here building looks quite different,” said Saline County Judge Jeff Arey during the meeting.

Arey added that he and Curtis along with members of the election commission and other county employees were “very glad” to see the upgraded facility and equipment.