Electronic voting machines put to test | NevadaAppeal.com

Electronic voting machines put to test

Nevada Appeal editorial board

Nevada isn’t just a battleground state in this election. It’s also a testing ground. As the first state in the union to be using electronic voting machines with paper copies of the ballots, Nevada is leading the way and being closely watched by other states in the Congress-decreed rush to make polling places more accountable.

Secretary of State Dean Heller insisted on the Sequoia Voting Systems machines with printers, despite grumbling by some county clerks. And he insisted they be ready statewide for the primary election going on now.

Only Clark County, which already had Sequoia machines but not the printers, will have results that can’t be backed up with paper copies. Of course, most of the state’s voters live there. But Nevada is still well ahead of other states in implementing the system.

By all accounts from early voting, the machines are easy to use and reliable. We’ll find out Tuesday night after polls close after the primary election how well the tabulation goes, but we have high hopes this will be one of the most efficient elections yet.

It helps a great deal that many counties have few races on the primary ballot. That’s why it was a good idea to make the machines functional in time for this election and have a real, live run-through before it comes to the Nov. 2 general election. Heller deserves praise for pushing through the system.

And even though the primary ballots are thin – is that an acceptable description in the electronic age? – we urge voters to go to the polls today (for the last day of early voting) or on Tuesday so they get a try at the newfangled machines. Hey, it’s kind of fun – in a politically geeky way.

The real test will come if Nevada’s vote is so close between George Bush and John Kerry in November that a paper-ballot recount comes into play (for all counties except Clark). We’ll find out then if the problems which plagued Florida in 2000 have been solved or merely digitized.