Early voters OK with electronic machines

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal

More than 200 people voted at the Carson City Courthouse on Saturday, the first day of early voting. It was the first time voters tried the new electronic voting machines " on which Nevada will be the first state to rely entirely.

"It seemed like it took a little longer than the old way, and at my age I'm not good at waiting," said 75-year-old Republican Patricia Heier. "But when you get used to them, they ought to be fine."

Carson City has 140 of the new Sequoia machines.

Fourteen are being used during early voting, which runs through September 3.

After voters make their selection by touching icons next to the candidates' names, they can print a paper record of the ballot. This receipt-like paper is behind glass and not accessible to the voter. It is called the "verified paper trail."

"That'll probably be important because we've had some close races," said early voter Joe Walls. "And it'll probably help the people that are uncomfortable with the electronics."

Heier said she trusts the new machines " sort of.

"I trust them as well as I trust any other machines. Some of them work, some of them don't. Sometimes it depends on the people running them."

Part-time employees of clerk-recorder Alan Glover have a sample machine set up in the courthouse hallway where they can run first-timers through the voting process. The sample ballot lets people vote for a mock president and U.S. Senator.

"Most people vote for George Washington," said Cookie Callahan, a six-year veteran of elections work.

She explained how each voter is given a card, which is inserted into a slot on the Sequoia machine.

"It's like the key you get for a motel room."

As you follow the instructions, touching the screen to make your selections, you can hit the "back" icon at any time to go back and make changes. Even after you print the "Verified Paper Trail," you can touch "make changes" and the word "voided" will print in bold across the paper. Then you can re-do your ballot. The last step is to touch the "cast ballot" icon.

The screen will display the words "vote recorded" and the voter card will eject. Sequoia machines will not accept the used card until it has been reactivated.

The vote will be saved on a removable computer disc in each machine, as well as recorded on the paper.

"Now you've got two backups," said Walls. "And no hanging chads."

Because Nevada will be the first state in the nation to rely entirely on electronic voting machines, clerk-recorder staff expect national media attention during the general election.

"But I'm sure they're going to be mostly in Vegas and Washoe," said chief elections clerk Tammy Caldwell.

Clerk-recorder staff are encouraging voters to bring their sample ballots, but they can process voters without them, too.

Contact Karl Horeis at khoreis@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.


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