Monday, February 16, 2004

No Touch-Screen Voting in Watauga Co. This Year

The continuing bad word out there about "touch-screen" electronic voting machines, especially those made by Diebold Corp. (Paul Krugman's column back on Jan. 23rd, among many other sources) led to a call to the director of Watauga County's Board of Elections.

Because the guidelines and the regulations for implementing the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 are still being wrangled over and developed at the Election Assistance Commission, the local Board of Elections has felt no particular hurry to rush into buying any of the new voting systems currently on the market. One thing is certain: Diebold equipment is not even being considered in Watauga County.

However, what IS being considered doesn't make us feel any better. During "early one-stop" voting in the general elections of 2002, the local Board of Elections did experiment with an Advanced Voting Solutions machine and is considering that company's machines and other ones produced by Election Software and Systems (ESS) for purchase in 2005. The word out on both Advanced and ESS is not any better than the word out on Diebold. (Here's just one link of many.) All local boards of elections in the country are under a federal mandate to do something about out-moded methods of voting by 2006.

Doing something about out-moded punch cards is one thing. Putting Big Brother in charge is quite another.

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