Carson voters to see new system in 2004 primary election | NevadaAppeal.com
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Carson voters to see new system in 2004 primary election

Jill Keller, Appeal Staff Writer

Carson City voters may go to the polls to vote in primary elections much earlier in 2004 as a result of a new federally mandated computerized voting system, Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover told a gathering of retired federal employees Tuesday.

The city will install touch-screen computers by next year as part of the change required by the federal “Help America Vote Act” of 2002 that calls for updating voting technology and a statewide voter-registration systems.

Installation Carson City’s system, paid from federal funding, will likely cost a total of $1 million after training and outreach is figured in, Glover said.

Some questioned the importance of installing the expensive system.

“I wasn’t aware Carson City had a lot of problems,” said John Brook, 65, of Carson City, a member of the retired federal employees association. “So this voter registration act seems like the perfect solution to a non-existent problem.”

Glover agreed. Carson City had one recount for an election which resulted in the candidates each only picking up one vote after the lengthy hand-count.

“We’re solving a problem that really only existed in Florida,” Glover said.

The National Voting Act, expected to cost $3.8 billion, is aimed at preventing a repeat of problems that developed mainly in Florida during the 2000 presidential elections with punch-card voting.

The federal program also requires districts to verify provisional ballots, expected to be a one-month project, and send oversees military ballots 45 days prior to election days.

With the new requirements, Glover expects primary elections to be held in the spring of 2004, instead of the first Tuesday in September, but that will have to be decided by the state Legislature, he said.

Though Congress has not appropriated funding for the bill, Nevada could receive a $5 million grant to complete a shift from punch-card or pull-lever voting systems to new systems that meet the federal law, such as touch screen or optical scanning systems. Only eight of the state’s 17 counties haven’t made the change.

Nevada could get an additional $20.5 million in federal grants to help implement its state election plan. With about $2.5 million of that money, Secretary of State Dean Heller hopes to develop a statewide voter-registration system.

The new registration system assigns voters unique identifiers based on the last four digits of the voter’s driver’s license or Social Security number and requires first-time voters to show identification. Heller hopes to also pass state legislation allowing same-day registration.

As part of the mandated program, the city will provide one device in each polling place for handicapped voters, such as hearing or visually impaired residents, and provide multiple languages.

The computers will allow voters to view their selections at the end and enable them to go back and change their votes before finalizing their ballot. It will tell voters if they missed a selection, Glover said.

Absentee voters will receive paper ballots that will need to be marked with pencil or pen instead of punch cards.

The two systems will merge votes together to produce a report. Several technology details are still being ironed out, but Glover said the computerized systems will provide faster results.

“They’re very expensive,” Glover said. “They’re also very nice. Carson voters are really going to like this system.”