Monday, May 28, 2007

Fayette: Not too late for paper ballot with optical-scan

Fayette doesn't need to switch to touch-screen voting machines, or switch vendors to update its voting system.

Commissioners have another option. That is to revisit the contract with Hart Intercivic which supplied the county with some 268 or so eSlate voting machines.

The county would still meet Help America Vote Act's requirements for handicapped accessibility and for the opportunity for second chance voting at the polling place by utilizing a dual system which includes Hart Intercivic's eScan voting system in addition to the eSlates.

HAVA requires one handicapped accessible voting system per precinct.

There are 103 precincts in Fayette. One eSlate per precinct would meet the requirement of HAVA. Like Bedford County and Lancaster County, Fayette could employ the eScan paper ballot optical scan system for voters to not only have a choice, but to provide for a voter-verifiable paper ballot record.

The eScans could be easily incorporated at the polling place in addition to the eSlates, thus affording every voter a choice of which unit to use.

Commissioners should renegotiate with Hart Intercivic to include the eScan voting system in addition to the eSlate.

Bedford County debuts eSlate voting machines

New voting machines draw crowd By Helen Colwell Adams Sunday News
Published: Mar 18, 2006 11:35 PM EST

Chart shows how the two systems eSlate and eScan could be used in county-wide elections.

About eScan
The eScan is a precinct-based, digital ballot-imaging component that relies on the fully integrated functionality of the Hart Voting System. After marking a paper ballot, the voter feeds it directly into the eScan at the precinct. The ballot image is stored as a Cast Vote Record on a Mobile Ballot Box flash memory card that can be retrieved and tabulated by Hart’s Tally application. eScan's capabilities include functionality to reject overvoted, undervoted, and blank ballots, thereby providing second-chance voting at the precinct.

This display shows the eSlate system which uses Ballot Now for tabulating of absentee ballots. The foregoing system display showed use of both the eSlate and the eScan, and is very clear on the differences.
Electronic Voting System - eSlate®

The eSlate System automates the balloting and tabulation process, eliminating the need to work with multiple paper ballot styles and offering accuracy, security and efficiency. The components provide central, regional, and precinct tabulation, as well as complete reporting and auditing, making the eSlate System a comprehensive and integrated election solution.

Commissioners hear of polling place problems
By Amy Zalar, Herald-Standard
Updated 05/26/2007 12:06:04 AM EDT

The Fayette County commissioners Thursday heard about several problems that occurred at county polling places during the May 15 municipal primary.

During public comment, Uniontown City Councilman Joseph N. Giachetti characterized the problems as "chaos" in the city polling places. The primary marked only the third time in which the county's electronic voting machines were used.

Giachetti, who won the Democratic nomination for Uniontown City treasurer on May 15, said at the Jewish Community Center, where voters from Ward 1 cast their ballots, many people left because there weren't enough machines. Giachetti said that 147 people left one polling place without voting, adding that the number of people who did not vote was likely much higher throughout the city. He said a sample machine should be available, the way the old lever machines were on display in the past...

In response to Giachetti's comments, Zimmerlink said the three commissioners did not choose to replace the lever machines, it was required because of the "Florida fiasco with the chads." She said the commissioners had to comply with a federal mandate, and she thinks the eSlate system in the county was the most voter-friendly of any available.

Zimmerlink pointed out that there were very few complaints after the 2006 primary and general elections. She said a longer ballot this year may have contributed to the problems. Zimmerlink said training was held for poll workers and judges of election, and the street list has been cleaned up. She said the number of machines to place at each poll was the result of analyzing the number of voters in each precinct and the voter turnout for the past five years. She said additional public demonstrations will be done on the machines prior to the November election, and the commissioners could look at changing the number of machines at some polls.

Commissioner Vincent A. Vicites said it was "unfortunate" the commissioners were forced to get rid of the lever machines, which had 25 years of life left in them. He said the lever machines were decertified, making it illegal to use them. "We have to continue to focus on outreach," Vicites said, using the Fayette County Fair as an example of a place where a machine could be placed on display.

Vicites said the turnout for the 2006 and 2007 primaries was almost exactly the same, but the extensive ballot this time took extra time. "I don't know if you could ever get a more lengthy ballot," Vicites said.

Although Butela said touch screen machines instead of the dial, or "Etch a Sketch," machines the county purchased would have been better, Zimmerlink said it is too late to change machines.

"It is what it is. We already bought the machines. We need to continue with the education process," Zimmerlink said.

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