Local Pictures
Classified Ads
 Announce Births
Email Us
Buy A Copy
Local Links

click here to
The Daily

web page consultants:
Servant Technologies


03-03-03: Area voters may get touching experience
The Daily Standard
    There shouldn't be any hanging chads in Mercer County.
    Voters here may be using new electronic voting machines by November, as local election officials began previewing touch-screen voting machine vendors last week.
    While the president's Help Americans Vote Act (HAVA) sets a deadline of November 2004 for abandonment of all punch card ballot booths in the country, Mercer County Elections Director Toni Slusser hopes to make the switch a year early.
    "It would be a nightmare if we tried to use a new system for the first time during a presidential election," Slusser said of the reasoning behind an early switch.
    Members of the local board of elections, and boards from five area counties, were invited to Friday's four-hour demonstration on electronic voting booths from Sequoia Voting Systems, of Oakland, Calif.
    Company representatives reviewed every aspect of using the Sequoia system and the poll worker training required with it. The presentation is one of several planned for Mercer and the surrounding counties.
    Mercer County has 40 precincts and would need between 130 and 160 new booths, for a cost most likely greater than $500,000, Slusser surmised.
    The nationwide mandate to switch to electronic machines came after the November 2000 fiasco in several Florida precincts where voters claimed to be confused by the punch ballot and incorrectly voted. HAVA sets aside $650 million for the switch nationwide and a list of rules to guide the mandated change. The first round of funding allocates $30 million for Ohio's counties.
    While Slusser would like to get a foot in the door early, no election board in the country can access the federal monies yet, because administrative changes have yet to be made, she said.
    A regional representative for Secretary of State Ken Blackwell confirmed Friday that President George W. Bush still needs to set up a commission to approve plans from each state's election director. Also, Blackwell's office needs to create a commission to approve the plans of Ohio's counties to be sent to the federal government.
    Exactly how the switch will be handled across the state has become a hot topic lately in northern Ohio.
    Large newspapers in Cleveland and Toledo reported recently that Blackwell's office took away the right of the counties to choose a voting system, by telling Lucas and Cuyahoga counties not to make a large purchase of electronic voting machines.
    Slusser said the issue was misconstrued, and Blackwell ordered the counties not to purchase new machines until the funding is settled and the secretary of state can review the bids.
    Counties are asked to continue reviewing electronic voting vendors and share information with the state, Slusser said. Based on which vendors the counties prefer, bids to purchase new machine will be approved by Blackwell.
    The question that remains is if Blackwell will choose a vendor for the entire state, or regionally assign vendors, or allow each county to choose.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822