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First voting machines on their way

by Geoff Dornan

The first of the new electronic voting machines ordered by Nevada are on their way to county election officials.

Alfie Charles, who handles governmental relations for Sequoia Voting Systems, said the machines will begin arriving within the next two weeks, giving county clerks time to start training poll workers and others on how to program and use them. He said every county will get some of the machines.

The machines are touch-screen electronic voting machines that allow voters to make choices at election time in much the same way as people use an ATM.

Chief Deputy Secretary of State Renee Parker said the contract states Sequoia will begin delivering the touch-screen machines to Nevada even if the federal elections commission hasn’t released the money needed to pay for them.

Nevada expects to get $5.7 million in the near future and another $9 million this summer to pay for the machines. Under the terms of the contract, Nevada doesn’t owe Sequoia for the machines until 30 days after the federal government releases the money to the state.

Clark County is already using the Sequoia system. The machines are primarily for the other 16 Nevada counties, with some added to handle Clark County’s growth.

Charles said he has met with county election officials to make sure they are ready to accept delivery of the machines. One of the issues is security.

“They won’t be leaving the machines in an unlocked room,” he said. “Not only are they important to keep secure, but they aren’t cheap and they need to be protected.”

In addition, he said the machines have internal batteries which need to be recharged periodically.

Carson City Clerk Recorder Alan Glover said he is waiting for electricians to install the power outlets needed to recharge the machines, but that a secure storage room in his office is ready otherwise.

“It’s my understanding, they’re just waiting for us to say when we’re ready to take them,” he said.

Secretary of State Dean Heller has ordered all Nevada counties to use the electronic voting machines this election year. He ordered the old punch-card machines decertified so none of the counties using them – including Carson City and Douglas County – can do so again.

Charles said the first machines delivered won’t have the other feature Heller has mandated – a printer unit designed to let voters verify on paper that the machine accurately recorded their choices. But Parker said the counties need the machines with or without the printers as soon as possible to begin training staff on their use.

Charles said the printer units are beginning certification testing and will be shipped to Nevada counties as soon as they are certified and built. He said they are very simple to plug into the voting machines.

He said he wasn’t certain how many of the 1,935 machines Nevada is buying will be shipped in the next two weeks.

“But there will be enough to get out in the community and start doing demonstrations.”

Charles said because Nevada is going completely with the electronic voting machines, “there’s going to be a lot of national interest in Nevada in September.”

“Many states are looking at the possibility so they’ll be watching to see how it works.”

Contact Geoff Dornan at nevadaappeal@sbcglobal.net or 687-8750.