Voters approve of electronic ballot boxes
E-voting may have won the hearts and minds of South Lake Tahoe voters Tuesday seeking an easy way to conduct their civic duty for the El Dorado County primary.
“I thought it would be complicated,” Anne Landry said at the South Lake Tahoe fire station polling place, after filling in the ovals on the ballot with a black marker and slipping it in the scanning machine. Her sentiment was echoed by several people.
Election Day was the public’s first opportunity to use the Diebold electronic machines at the polls. They came about as a result of Help America Vote Act of 2002 – a federal law put into effect that makes the nation’s punch-card version obsolete. The voting act was enacted after the 2000 presidential election led to thousands of ballots left uncounted and a legal challenge by Al Gore that was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Congress offered the states $3.9 billion to buy the modern-day voting equipment, and the county used $1.7 million on the venture.
Many voters said they thought electronic voting would be more complicated and technical. Instead, voter Michael Lake thought it was faster and easier than the old, standard version.
“I like it better,” he said.
Absentee voting countywide has climbed to 39 percent, Registrar Bill Schultz said.
Election workers have high hopes for the machines, coming off an election six years ago that placed dimpled, pregnant and hanging chads into our vernacular. Talk of the machines’ maker being run by a Bush sympathizer didn’t help with the public’s receptiveness to the machines. But the controversy died down when he left Diebold.
County elections workers set up a near paperless system of checks and balances in the government center, as poll workers lined up to have their memory cards and optical scans tabulated. Workers had access to a Diebold hotline number in case of problems.
Fire station poll worker Diana Foster said her only issue came up when they couldn’t find the memory card.
“I found it in the case,” she said.