Faster-Easier-Safer Voting Machines

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Which method will you use to vote this fall? Would you prefer a paper ballot or an electronic one? In June 2009 the Grant County Board of Elections purchased eScan voting machines from Harp Enterprises, Inc. in Lexington. Because the several hundred thousand dollars spent for these voting machines provided a paper ballot trail, funding was provided by the Federal Government to assist states with the transition to a more transparent voting system.

What is different about the newest eScan machine? Oddly enough, we are somewhat returning to the simple days when we made a mark by the candidate of our choice on a paper ballot. The voter makes a mark by the name of their preferred candidate behind a privacy screen. Then the voter places their ballot into the eScan scanning machine, the ballot slides into a scanning tray and is counted; the process takes just a few seconds.   

The ballot drops into a locked and sealed voting ballot box.  What a simple, straight forward, quick process. The beauty of the system is, if election officials ever need to recount the eScan votes cast, these paper ballots are clearly marked and available for a recount. Paper ballots ensure each voter knows their vote counts and is counted as intended.

We also still have the older eSlate voting machines used in our county for about ten years. These are primarily for visually impaired voters, as they have headphones attached. To use it, you turn a dial four times to enter your assigned “voting number,” and then again turn the dial multiple times to find and indicate each of the candidates you want to cast a vote for. This eSlate process takes about a minute versus one or two seconds for the eScan.

The eSlate does NOT have a paper ballot backup. Election officials cannot conduct a one by one recount of eSlate votes. Although the primary incentive for purchasing the eScans was to provide clear paper backup for ballots should a recount ever be required, they are easier to use and they are faster. Therefore, the Board of Elections agreed to promote the use of the eScan, recognizing some voters would feel comfortable continuing to use the eSlate.

Knowing this history, you can imagine my surprise in the May election worker“schooling” for Grant County conducted by Megan Harp of Harp Enterprises, Inc. when she told the election workers we were to “PUSH” the use of theeSlate voting machines in this election. I immediately questioned Harp briefly during the training and later afterwards, why we would “push use of the eSlate?”  Her response was “It is the direction Frankfort wants to take”.
In subsequent correspondence with our county Judge Executive and County Clerk, and in a June meeting with the Board of Elections confirmed no one in Frankfort is “pushing”  the use of the eSlate, but rather leaves the decision up to the county. Because the eScan has a paper backup, is faster and is easier to use, the board reaffirmed the desire to encourage the use of  the eScan, with voters having the ability to use the eSlate if necessary or desired.

I remember clearly how fortunate we were to be able to recount the paper ballots cast in this county during the 2010 election. Election officials from each party, the candidate’s attorneys, and even a reporter from this newspaper stood by as one by one each paper ballot was recounted to validate a close election here in Grant County.  Our procedures withstood scrutiny.

Our paper ballot recount was transparent. I plan to attend future Board of Election meetings to assure clarity about why we procured the eScan voting machines.  They are faster, easier to use and provide a paper backup which gives voters more assurance that every vote is counted as intended. Overall, it provides more transparency to our voting process. For voters to have confidence in our election system, the election process must be transparent. When

I cast my vote this fall, I will use the eScan with a paper ballot backup. What’s your choice?
Bill Workman
Dry Ridge