Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Washington quarter poll resumes after computer mischief




OLYMPIA, Wash. -- An online poll to help choose the design of Washington's state quarter resumed Tuesday, after robotic computer programs stacked the vote and forced technicians to suspend polling.


The opinion poll was launched last Thursday, but officials stopped the tally after some computer users issued repeated votes from single Internet addresses, swelling the count past 1 million votes.


The earlier online results and an up-to-the-minute vote tally were abandoned in the new version of the poll. Computer users attempting to cast a second vote were greeted with a message thanking them for their earlier participation.


The State Quarter Advisory Commission assumes some technical minds will figure out ways to cast more than one ballot, but they'll be watching for large groups of repeat voters, spokesman Mark Gerth said.


"We'll be doing a number of different things to make sure the automated voting isn't counted in this next tally," Gerth said.


Gov. Chris Gregoire has the final say over which of the three final choices will grace the back of the quarter. She is expected to make a decision next month.


The choices are:


-A leaping salmon breaching the water in front of a conifer-trimmed Mount Rainier.


-An American Indian-style drawing of a playful killer whale, spouting water and raising its tail flukes.


-A salmon, apples and Mount Rainier within an outline of the state.


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