Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Local News

November 3, 2008

Electronic voting is a touchy issue

Voting officials must decide what to do when voters report problems casting ballots on touch-screen voting machines.

(Continued)



Allen said this included purchasing 25 HAVA compliant units, 40 regular units, storage carts, associated software, printers, scanners, training, computer system and various other accessories.

“In addition to that original purchase, we have bought a storage trailer, and outfitted it, and we have paid for annual maintenance,” she added.

Past county technology

Smiddy served on the county's resolution board during elections “at least before 1992,” beginning when the county started using optical scan voting machines. He said the board was comprised of two additional people - a Republican representative and a Democratic representative. Although they had “minor problems” with the machines, including “some occasional mechanical problems,” he said they did not have issues with accuracy.

Overvoting - where a voter marks more than one candidate in a race - was one concern regarding past voting machines, but Smiddy maintains that the optical scan machine would kick out overvotes, which he said were easy to resolve.

“I never remember having a disagreement over voter intent at all. We very rarely had problems where we couldn't tell what a voter intended,” he said. “We maybe had 100 ballots [in a general election] with problems. But it was real easy to resolve - you could tell voters intent if the machine spit out the ballot.”

According to the county clerk's office, Palo Pinto still uses its optical scan machines, but only for residents who request ballots by mail.

A 2007 article in the Huffington Post suggested “optical scan machines be used nationwide, if supplemented by equipment to allow voters with disabilities to vote privately.”

How DREs work

Touch-screen voting machines require calibration, which establishes the relationship between pressure from a voter's finger and a spot or “box” on the touch screen. Similar to how an ATM machine issues money in specific increments, the touch screen voting machines should match an individual's vote. Before each election, all Texas voting machines must be recalibrated and tested on all ballot variables.

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