County considers touch-screen voting |

County considers touch-screen voting

by Jeff Munson

In the wake of the contested November presidential election, Douglas County is among hundreds of local governments considering electronic, touch-screen voting booths.

County Recorder Barbara Reed attended a conference in Florida early this week to examine the issue and how to implement into future local elections.

She will present her findings and demonstrate a voting machine today before Douglas County commissioners.

With most counties facing tight budgets, electronic voting machines are not cheap.

Reed estimates they would cost the county around $900,000.

“We’ve been planning for the future and how to get our system tied in electronically,” Reed said.

“But what happened in November kind of put the pressure on us to do it quicker than expected.”

Douglas County has used a punch-card system for about 30 years and, for the most part, has not had problems with it.

The punch-card system came under scrutiny during the November election when George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, narrowly defeated Vice President Al Gore.

Since, many on both sides of the aisle have conceded the punch-card system should be replaced with electronic voting devices.

Florida has already moved to touch-screen voting booths and other states are ready to follow suit.

Reed had been looking to improve the county’s ballot system long before the November election. About $175,000 has been set aside from past elections that could help offset the cost of conversion. The county could also convert to a new system in stages.

“We would likely want to do it in phases where we would purchase some machines and software and merge them into the voting system,” Reed said.

What: Douglas County Board of Commissioners

When: 1 p.m. today

Where: Courtroom of the Douglas County Administrative Building, 1616 Eighth St., Minden

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