Nevadans to become first to use touch-screen voting in primary |

Nevadans to become first to use touch-screen voting in primary

The Associated Press

LAS VEGAS – Voting officials were watching how successful Nevada would be today in becoming the first state to use touch-screen machines in statewide voting.

Primary voting was due to narrow the field of November candidates for Congress, the state Legislature and two nonpartisan seats on the Nevada Supreme Court. Seats also were at stake on the state university Board of Regents and state Board of Education and many local offices.

State and county election officials reported few problems with electronic machines after at least 100,000 ballots were cast during two weeks of early voting.

“Nothing but glowing reports,” said Steve George, spokesman for Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller.

Some Las Vegas-area voters had to be told they could not take paper printouts from beneath a clear plastic cover, Clark County Registrar Larry Lomax said. The receipts remain with the machine as proof of votes if a recount is needed.

In the Reno area, one poll worker had to be retrained after repeatedly giving the wrong ballot to voters at an early voting center at a mall, George said.

Washoe County Voter Registrar Dan Burk said studies found voters were taking 60 to 90 seconds longer to vote on the touch-screen machines than in the past.

But Matthew Pinchon of Reno said the touch screens were quicker than the old voting method.

Robert Munson called it “a lot more convenient than filling in those bubbles.”

Supporters say the electronic machines improve voter accuracy and provide a uniform election system.

Critics attack the machines’ security and reliability, pointing to election problems elsewhere in the country.

A short primary ballot and growing familiarity with the system after weeks of media reports were expected to help keep voters moving on primary day, officials said.

“The polls will be ready for them,” Lomax said. “Everything’s all set to go.”

In Clark County, Lomax said 71,748 voters cast early ballots, and he received another 13,000 absentee ballots.

Lomas said he expected turnout of about 27 percent for the election – higher than in 2000 and 2002.

About 9,000 early votes were cast in Washoe, the state’s second-largest county, and George said officials were sure the state topped 100,000 early votes. He projected turnout for the primary would be between 25 and 35 percent.

The state, with about 2.2 million residents, had 945,981 voters registered for the primary election.

Voters who want to check things out before heading for the polls between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. today can check the Web site at