All Alexandria polling places are equipped with eSlate electronic voting machines. Each is the size of a legal pad, about an inch thick and weighs 5.2 pounds.

Voters will have the opportunity to practice voting on an eSlate unit equipped with make-believe races.

What's with all these buttons? You use them to navigate through the ballot.

Turn the "select" wheel at the lower right to highlight your choices.

Press the "enter" button to vote for the highlighted candidate or question.

When you've finished one screen and wish to go to another, push the "next" button.

If you wish to review the choices you've made, push the "prev" button.

To cast your vote, push the red "cast ballot" button on the left.

What's the first step? Before directing voters to an eSlate, a poll worker will provide each with a card printed with a randomly generated four-digit access code. Using the select wheel and enter button, the voter enters the four numbers and the ballot pops up on the screen.

How do I choose my candidate? Use the select wheel to highlight your choice in blue and hit the enter button. The box to the left of the name will register in red to display your vote, and the blue highlight bar will move to the next part of the ballot. Continue using the select wheel and pressing enter to vote until you have completed all pages of the ballot. You can use prev or next buttons to look back or move ahead at any time.

Can I write in a candidate? Yes. There is that option for each office. It includes an alphabet. Again, use the select wheel to select each letter of the individual's name and press enter after each one.

What if I don't want to vote in a particular race? You don't have to vote in every contest. You can skip any one you wish. By the same token, the machine is programmed to prohibit overvoting.

What if I get confused? Each unit has a "Help" button that allows voters to call up instructions on the screen. Press it twice, and an election official will offer assistance.

Can I review my choices? Yes. After you have finished the ballot, a summary page will appear showing your votes. If you wish to change anything, use the select wheel to choose the contest and hit enter. You'll find yourself back in that race. Use the select wheel to make your new choice and hit enter.

How do I register my vote? When you have finished voting and reviewing your choices, push the red "cast vote" button. A waving American flag will appear on the screen.

Special features: eSlate is accessible to voters with disabilities and allows votes to be cast privately without assistance. Visually impaired voters can use earphones to listen to the ballot. Voters with severe arthritis or other fine mobility problems can request switches to replace the dial and buttons. An adaptor is also available for severely paralyzed voters to use "sip and puff" devices.

SOURCE: Alexandria Registrar's Office

Voters will be using Alexandria's new eSlate electronic voting machines. Alexandria will have between eight and 12 eSlates for this year's elections.