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Go with voting machines Nevadans know

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

The greatest responsibility in the choice of new voting machines in Nevada remains the voters themselves, and so far we’re unconvinced the public is going to feel comfortable with the two systems being considered for 2004 elections.

Secretary of State Dean Heller and county clerks are under the gun to get new systems installed for November elections next year. They must order them soon and get the machines in operation next year, but there is still quite a bit of jockeying over who gets the final say and what type of machines are best.

It makes sense to have one system throughout the state for convenience, uniformity and speed of results. But the same system may not work as well for rural counties as for Clark and Washoe.

Alan Glover and Barbara Reed, county clerks for Carson City and Douglas County, respectively, have raised a number of issues, such as portability of machines for people who can’t get into a polling place. They also say the touch-screen machines in place in Las Vegas already have become outdated.

There is disagreement as well over whether the machines must produce a paper record of each ballot – for voters to verify, and as tangible evidence in case of a recount – and whether security for some of the electronic systems is adequate.

Voters must feel their votes are secure and accurately counted, but they must also feel a familiarity with the way they cast their ballots. Although touch-screen computers may be standard technology at the bank’s drive-up ATM, some people may be intimidated when it comes to voting on them. They will need plenty of opportunities to check out new voting machines and get some practice.

Switching to new voting machines is a critical and expensive decision. With so many issues unresolved, the safer choice seems to be the Sequoia Pacific Voting Systems machines in use in Clark County since 1996.

They have a satisfactory track record in Nevada, and the biggest bloc of voters in the state already knows how to use them.