Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Commissioner denies citizens paper ballot optical scan

apparently in a move to address long lines at the polls, at least one Fayette commissioner is willing to only consider adding more of the same electronic voting machines to its current array of Hart InterCivic's eSlate.

Unfortunately, the current board may not even wait for the new board to take office, which reportedly occurs locally on January 7.

That would be a disservice to the local public since one new board member, Vincent Zapotosky, has expressed an interest in at least reviewing the two voting systems employed by Lancaster County.

Commissioner Vincent Vicites has not yet announced his leanings.

Lancaster also purchased Hart InterCivic's eSlates, but also added the paper ballot with optical scanner, known as eScans.

Mr. Zapotosky had been apprised of the Lancaster situation after his election to office of commissioner, and when a guest on a local radio talk program noted he would look into the paper ballots with optical scan readers.

Let's hope he has a chance to weigh in on this important issue. At least he and other commissioners could contact Lancaster County to determine how their dual system worked. A town hall style meeting could also be held wherein such experts as Rebecca Mercuri could outline positions on their support of the paper ballots with the optical scans.

commissioners don't need to rush into purchasing more eSlate machines before they have all of the available information concerning the eScans. They are not rejecting Hart InterCivic and going with another vendor which would likely take more time to obtain the units.

One detraction of the eslates is the write-in process. If a voter wants to write-in a name which is not on the ballot, the voter must type in each letter of the name. That alone for just one office takes a minute or two.

If voters take only 3 minutes to accomplish the process of voting on the electronic eSlate, that allows only 20 voters per eSlate an hour.

An additional eSlate per polling place may not solve the problem of long lines, especially if voters wish to do write-ins for more than one office and there is higher voter turnout as well.

The board should consider too that the paper ballot with the optical scan provides a paper record with the paper ballot.

In the event of a close election and a dispute, the paper ballot provides an actual paper record, not a print-out from a digital image.

Herald Standard article clip

Fayette budget holds tax rate steady
By Amy Zalar, Herald-Standard
Updated 01/02/2008

...Following adoption of the budget, Zimmerlink spoke about the need to purchase additional electronic voting machines in advance of the April presidential primary. She said when the commissioners initially purchased the 268 machines following a federal mandate that deemed lever machines illegal, at the time they believed there were enough machines for the county's 103 precincts.

However, in the four elections since purchase of the machines, Zimmerlink said the number of negative comments has increased. Following the November election, numerous individuals complained about the long wait time at some precincts.

Zimmerlink said after speaking with a representative of Hart Intercivic, she asked Vicites and commissioner-elect Vincent Zapotosky to respond about purchasing new machines, but then did not get a response.

"I think we need to make a decision on the purchasing of machines," Zimmerlink said.

Following Zimmerlink's comments, Vicites said he is prepared to purchase more machines.

"We put money in the budget. I think we have to get more machines. A presidential year always has a higher turnout," Vicites said.

Zimmerlink said the commissioners put a minimum of $170,000 to use for additional voting machines.

Both Zimmerlink and Vicites said additional outreach is needed to teach voters how to use the electronic machines. Zimmerlink said she wants to make a decision soon about purchasing more machines, although she acknowledged that Zapotosky couldn't really take action until taking office on Jan. 4...

Tribune Review article clip

Fayette County holds line on taxes
By Liz Zemba
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Fayette County commissioners on Monday passed a budget for 2008 that holds the line on taxes...

Commissioners included $170,000 in the budget for electronic voting machines, said Angela Zimmerlink, commissioner chairwoman.

Zimmerlink said her research has shown that 45 to 55 machines are needed to help reduce waiting times at polls. She added that voting lines will be cut by continuing public demonstrations of the devices and training poll workers.

Zimmerlink said she wants the board to approve the purchase during the next several days to expedite delivery.


Dear Lancaster County Voter:

After several months of careful review, we have selected a new voting system for our voters. Beginning with the Primary Election in May 2006, the Hart Voting System will replace our lever machines. The new voting system has two components: the eScan for paper ballots and the eSlate for accessible voting. Both will be available at each polling place, so you may use either system.

The eScan is a precinct-based digital scanner for paper ballots and the eSlate is an accessible voting machine that ensures those who are blind or have low-vision, have limited or no upper-body mobility, and those who have difficulty reading can vote in privacy without any assistance. If you are an absentee voter, you will continue to vote by mail.

The purchase of this new system is necessary to comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) signed into law by the President on October 29, 2002. This law requires voting systems to be accessible so that all voters can cast a vote privately and independently, including those who are blind or who have mobility impairments. It also requires second-chance voting, giving voters a chance to review and change a vote or correct a ballot where an incorrect mark may have been made. Through HAVA, the federal government has appropriated funds to assist with the purchase of new systems.

County's 550 new voting machines ready for debut
by Chad Umble - Lancaster New Era
published May 12, 2006

How to use

Hart Intercivic white paper

Q & A

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