http://www.herald-progress.com/articles/2005/09/16/news/4%20new%20voting%20machines%20come.txt

Herald-Progress

Hanover County's newspaper for 122 years

11293 Air Park Road

Ashland, VA 23005

Phone: (804) 798-9031

 

Sept. 16, 2005

 

New Voting Machines Coming

 

By BRAD FRANKLIN

 

When Karen Matthews, chair of the Electoral Board, made her presentation at the Hanover County Board of Supervisors' meeting in August, few in the audience could really appreciate how much the voting reforms she was discussing could impact the election process in the area.

 

Matthews' information on new voting machines, which the supervisors funded this week, brought high praise from nearly every member of the board.

 

Wednesday night, as part of the consent agenda, the county's Board of Supervisors transferred and appropriated $350,362 for the purchase of new voting machines, 37 optical scan and 37 automark machines, by the Registrar from Elections Systems and Software.

[emphasis added by WheresThePaper.org]

 

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 contained a number of election reform activities, from poll access and training to types of voting machines available for use.

 

The bill requires the replacement of all punchcard and lever voter machines by January 1, 2006, and funds at least a portion of the cost of the replacement machines.

 

Matthews presented information to the board in August about how local election officials went about researching and settling on the new voting machines that will one day be a staple of Hanover County's voting system.

 

Initial guidance from the state led the Electoral Board in 2004 to select HAVA compliant voting machines.

 

"After a series of meetings and demonstrations by vendors, the Electoral Board voted on July 13 to purchase optical scan voting machines supplemented with automark voting machines for disabled voters," Matthews said.

 

Matthews said there would be a total of 37 of the optical scan machines, one for each of the 34 voting precincts in the county plus three additional backup machines, as well as 37 automark machines

 

Matthews presented two main options for new machines, one of the optical scan variety while the other is a direct recording machine or DRE.

 

An optical scan voting machine operates by way of the voter filling out a bubble ballot, indicating their choice for the various offices by filling in what is essentially a form.

 

The ballot is then run through the machine, which records the data.

 

The automark machines would be supplemented in order to accommodate those with disabilities. The machines have the capability to provide sound for those who can't see among other ways to help voters cast a confidential vote.

 

The DRE, meanwhile, is a touch screen voting system in which a light would come up next to the voters' choices. At the end, the voter would be asked to press a button to cast the ballot where it would be recorded.

 

The problem with the DRE, Matthews said, is that election officials didn't trust it because it doesn't have paper verification if there is some type of malfunction, as with the optical scan system.

 

"There have been instances, like in North Carolina where they lost 4,500 votes, where the machines haven't worked right or frozen up. It allowed voters to vote but it didn't tabulate the votes," Matthews said.

 

The DREs also are susceptible to hackers, she added.

 

"If the optical scan machines malfunction, we always have the original paper ballot. If there's any need for a recount, we have the paper trail as well," Matthews said.

 

In order for the county to purchase the DRE machines, it would need to purchase one machine for every 750 voters to be in compliance with the state code.

 

For 34 total precincts, there would need to be 155 DREs.

[emphasis added by WheresThePaper.org]

 

So after taking into account the types of machines and the different situations they present, Matthews and other officials concluded the optical scan machines were the best option by far.

 

"It really gives the voter the best chance to have their vote still be private as well as making it easy and accountable," Matthews said.

 

During its August meeting, the board congratulated Matthews and other election officials for "a great, great choice," as the board's Vice Chairman Charles McGhee said.

 

The transfer of funds at Wednesday night's meeting includes for the purchase of the optical scan and automark machines as well as operating costs associated with the new voting system.

Matthews' information on new voting machines, which the supervisors funded this week, brought high praise from nearly every member of the board.

 

Wednesday night, as part of the consent agenda, the county's Board of Supervisors transferred and appropriated $350,362 for the purchase of new voting machines, 37 optical scan and 37 automark machines, by the Registrar from Elections Systems and Software.

 

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 contained a number of election reform activities, from poll access and training to types of voting machines available for use.

 

The bill requires the replacement of all punchcard and lever voter machines by January 1, 2006, and funds at least a portion of the cost of the replacement machines.

 

Matthews presented information to the board in August about how local election officials went about researching and settling on the new voting machines that will one day be a staple of Hanover County's voting system.

 

Initial guidance from the state led the Electoral Board in 2004 to select HAVA compliant voting machines.

 

"After a series of meetings and demonstrations by vendors, the Electoral Board voted on July 13 to purchase optical scan voting machines supplemented with automark voting machines for disabled voters," Matthews said.

 

Matthews said there would be a total of 37 of the optical scan machines, one for each of the 34 voting precincts in the county plus three additional backup machines, as well as 37 automark machines

 

Matthews presented two main options for new machines, one of the optical scan variety while the other is a direct recording machine or DRE.

 

An optical scan voting machine operates by way of the voter filling out a bubble ballot, indicating their choice for the various offices by filling in what is essentially a form.

 

The ballot is then run through the machine, which records the data.

 

The automark machines would be supplemented in order to accommodate those with disabilities. The machines have the capability to provide sound for those who can't see among other ways to help voters cast a confidential vote.

 

The DRE, meanwhile, is a touch screen voting system in which a light would come up next to the voters' choices. At the end, the voter would be asked to press a button to cast the ballot where it would be recorded.

 

The problem with the DRE, Matthews said, is that election officials didn't trust it because it doesn't have paper verification if there is some type of malfunction, as with the optical scan system.

 

"There have been instances, like in North Carolina where they lost 4,500 votes, where the machines haven't worked right or frozen up. It allowed voters to vote but it didn't tabulate the votes," Matthews said.

 

The DREs also are susceptible to hackers, she added.

 

"If the optical scan machines malfunction, we always have the original paper ballot. If there's any need for a recount, we have the paper trail as well," Matthews said.

 

In order for the county to purchase the DRE machines, it would need to purchase one machine for every 750 voters to be in compliance with the state code.

 

For 34 total precincts, there would need to be 155 DREs.

 

So after taking into account the types of machines and the different situations they present, Matthews and other officials concluded the optical scan machines were the best option by far.

 

"It really gives the voter the best chance to have their vote still be private as well as making it easy and accountable," Matthews said.

 

During its August meeting, the board congratulated Matthews and other election officials for "a great, great choice," as the board's Vice Chairman Charles McGhee said.

 

The transfer of funds at Wednesday night's meeting includes for the purchase of the optical scan and automark machines as well as operating costs associated with the new voting system.

 

Wednesday night, as part of the consent agenda, the county's Board of Supervisors transferred and appropriated $350,362 for the purchase of new voting machines, 37 optical scan and 37 automark machines, by the Registrar from Elections Systems and Software.

 

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 contained a number of election reform activities, from poll access and training to types of voting machines available for use.

 

The bill requires the replacement of all punchcard and lever voter machines by January 1, 2006, and funds at least a portion of the cost of the replacement machines.

 

Matthews presented information to the board in August about how local election officials went about researching and settling on the new voting machines that will one day be a staple of Hanover County's voting system.

Copyright 2004-2005 The Hanover Herald-Progress

Hanover County's newspaper for 122 years

11293 Air Park Road

Ashland, VA 23005

Phone: (804) 798-9031

 

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