Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Touch screen voting machines technological limitations

Electronic ballots change order of candidates' names
Thursday, October 11, 2007
By David Guo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
As is customary, candidates for races in Allegheny County soon will be sent a sample of what the Nov. 6 ballot will look like. A warning: Don't toss it out with the junk mail.

Because of technological limitations in the new electronic voting machines, some candidates may be surprised by their ballot position.

The quirk in ballot position is particularly apparent in this year's school board race in North Allegheny, a predominantly Republican area where a newcomer who won only the Democratic nomination will be listed above four GOP incumbents who won both parties' nominations.

Mark Wolosik, Allegheny County elections division manager, acknowledged the electronic ballots may cause more inquiries than usual. This is the first time touch-screen ballots have been used in a general election involving candidates nominated by both parties for school board, magisterial district judge and Common Pleas Court seats.

Instead of being listed across the ballot, as they were with the old lever voting machines, candidates' names are listed up and down. Also, their names appear only once on the electronic ballots, rather than once for each party that nominated them.

Mr. Wolosik explained why the county decided that candidates for each race should be listed in a single-column laundry list, rather than the familiar grid in which candidates from the same party were listed side by side, spread across the ballot.

"The system that we bought doesn't have the capacity to prevent a voter from voting for a candidate twice if they're listed twice," he explained. With the old system, a locked lever would prevent someone from voting twice for the same candidate.


No comments: