Archive for Thursday, August 3, 2006

New voting machines perform well on first test

August 3, 2006


When the polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday, only about 9,000 Douglas County voters, or about 12 percent of those registered, had participated in the primary election.

The final vote count was done by 9:15 p.m., and the results were released to the public about 9:30 p.m. or shortly after.

That was a much better showing than in previous elections, and a good sign for the new voting machines that debuted Tuesday, County Clerk Jamie Shew said.

"It gave us an opportunity to look at our process on election night and see how fast we are at getting the results," Shew said.

Now that election workers are familiar with working with the machines, it's possible results for the Nov. 7 general election could be handled more quickly, but "we're never going to get to the point where we're done by 8 o'clock," Shew said.

"I think there are some processes we could work on, but I was extremely pleased with how it went election night," he said.

When a polling station closes at 7 p.m., workers box up ballots and a data card from the ballot machine and take them to the courthouse, where the votes are totaled.

Voting information on the card is downloaded into a computer. That information is compared to information on a printed piece of paper from the machine to see whether they match, Shew said.

The matching of numbers includes the number of ballots collected and the number of voters casting ballots.

Shew said he would not release numbers straight off the data card without double-checking them with the paper printout.

"To me it's important that we are quick, but it's also important that we are right," he said.

Printed reports on vote counts are prepared periodically for the public and the media during the tabulation process, and the results are also put on the election results section of the county's Web site,

Results are also sent by fax to the Kansas Secretary of State's Office. Douglas County sent two reports to the state office on election night: at 9:45 p.m. and at 10:03 p.m., spokeswoman Stephanie Wing said.

There were still at least 20 other Kansas counties that had not submitted final reports before Douglas County, she said.

During the Nov. 7 general election, Douglas County might join a pilot project that would send vote tabulations electronically to the secretary of state's office, Shew said.

When the election started at 7 a.m. Tuesday, some voters told the Journal-World that polling places were not ready. All polls opened on time, but Shew said there were some places where the machines that collect and register the ballots were not ready by the start time.

Voters, however, were able to go ahead and cast their ballots, which were put into a secure emergency backup bin, he said.

The ballots were then dumped into the machine when it was ready.

To alleviate that problem in future elections, poll workers will be reporting for work at 6 a.m. instead of 6:30 a.m., Shew said.

There were 206 provisional, or challenge, ballots cast in the primary, Shew said.

Provisional ballots allow voters the right to vote when there is a question regarding that voter's registration.

Those ballots will be examined Friday when Douglas County commissioners canvass the election.


vanman 11 years, 8 months ago

Of course they performed well. They want us to have trust and faith BEFORE the start rigging the elections.

prioress 11 years, 8 months ago

Could be a good point; like most of us who use computers, I have no idea what goes on "behind the screen." With private companies controlling the software, and private companies also donating to political campaigns, it makes me nervous. I understand the allure of technology, but what's wrong with paper ballots and leaving a permanent record that is much more difficult to corrupt? It's all for television and I say, screw 'em. I don't care if the results start coming in an hour or so. If it takes a few days to get it right in some races, so be it.

conservative 11 years, 8 months ago

prioress, obviously you didn't vote on Tuesday. The paper ballots are still being used and retained. The new booths just do the tabulating. Any concerns about the way the votes were counted and they still have the paper ballots to go to for a recount

bearded_gnome 11 years, 8 months ago

Conservative...don't let the facts get in the way of a big hangin' conspiracy foilhat event! I think I hear "black helicopters" just over the horizon manned by blue helmets...argh!

bearded_gnome 11 years, 8 months ago

also, the new electronic voting device which still marks a paper ballot for a physical record makes voting accessible for blind, dyslexic, physically impaired folks who otherwise would need voting assistance.
good tech, no worries.

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