September 8, 2006 - Election office gets early look at likely vote system solution
James Faulk/The Times-Standard
Eureka Times Standard
Article Launched: 9/08/2006 04:19 AM
Election office gets early look at likely vote system solution; Company rep trains workers on new technology
EUREKA -- With exactly two months remaining until the upcoming election, a representative from Hart InterCivic was in town Thursday to help train county election employees on a new system to increase accessibility and meet federal election reform guidelines.
Jim Suver arrived from Phoenix to demonstrate the system -- how votes would be cast and how the information gets stored in both digital and paper forms.
The eSlate technology, as it's called, is not the county's first choice to meet the federal Help America Vote Act requirements to have certified accessible voting technology in every polling place.
The county had decided to go with VotePad, an assistive technology that would have only cost around $65,000, but Secretary of State Bruce McPherson decided not to certify it for use, after using what county officials believe was an inappropriate test to determine its viability.
Since the VotePad option has been vetoed, the county will likely go with Hart InterCivic. The cost will be more than $804,000 of state and federal money made available to the county for this and other election purposes.
The final contract is still being worked out, said County Clerk Carolyn Crnich.
After meeting with county employees, Suver was to meet with the county's Election Advisory Committee.
Humboldt County Elections Officer Lindsey McWilliams said it will be a challenge to get the machines up and running before the Election Day deadline.
”We've never done anything like this before,” he said.
But the county will get it done, he said, because it has to. There would be legal repercussions for not doing so, through the U.S. Department of Justice.
One way to help address the problem is adding more people. While there were roughly 500 poll workers during the June primary, that number will likely creep up to 550 for the November vote, and then the appropriate people will have to be trained on the machines.
Suver said his company has never deployed a set of machines under such a tight deadline -- the county is ordering somewhere around 80 of the machines -- but he was confident that his company could get it done.
Crnich was also sure that the issues could be resolved.
”We've got really sharp poll workers and the equipment I think will show in the demonstration this afternoon and this evening that it's not that terribly complicated, that it's fairly user friendly, not only for the voter but for the poll worker,” she said.
But she did admit that there was going to be “something of a learning curve for the next election or two.”
James Faulk can be reached at 441-0511 or email@example.com.
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