Archive for Thursday, August 3, 2006

Voting machines pass test in county

August 3, 2006

Leavenworth County's new electronic touch-screen voting machines were a hit with voters and election officials during their official debut this week.

The iVotronic voting machines, used in the Aug. 1 primary, were greeted with generally positive reactions and were described as "user friendly," "quick" and "easy."

"We've had no negative comments," Keyta Kelly, supervising judge for Lansing's Ward 3, said regarding the new machines. "Everyone's been, 'Oh, that was easy.'"

While voters could request paper ballots, Kelly said everyone who came in used the new machines.

"Everything we've done is electronic so far," she said.

Election officials individually instructed voters how to use the new machines and were available for questions during the voting process. Most voters took, on average, five minutes to cast their electronic ballot and had generally positive reactions to the new technology.

"There was nothing not to like," A.C. Byrd said after he voted on a machine. "It was user friendly and simple."

Byrd said he liked the machines because they were economical and not complicated, even for senior citizens.

Other voters found the machines easy and quick to operate.

"The system works quick and the explanation was good," Stephen Brodersen said after he voted. "I think once people get accustomed, it will be faster."

"They were easier to use than I first anticipated," Evelyn Little said about the machines after voting.

Byrd and Brodersen said they preferred the touch screen to the paper ballot, while Little said she preferred the paper ballot because she felt it provided more of a permanent record.

Election officials also were pleased with the new machines and the public's reaction to them.

"I didn't hear any complaints about the machines," Leavenworth County Clerk Linda Scheer said the day after the election. "I don't know if any of my girls did, but they didn't say anything to me."

Scheer, the county's chief election officer, helped select the iVotronic machines. She said some poll workers ran into difficulty "zeroing out" the machines at the beginning of the day, but otherwise there were few technical difficulties.

Tallying the votes, she said, was much easier with the electronic machines.

"Everything was coming in so fast, we had to make time to do the media reports," Scheer said.

By 10 p.m., all of the counting was completed and final tallies posted.

Meanwhile, back in the voting precincts, election workers were happy to be done with the jitters about the new technology.

"Everyone's said, 'That was easier than I expected,'" said Verlin Tompkins, election clerk for Lansing Ward 2. "Its definitely faster than the old. People have a really good attitude about it."

At Lansing Ward 1, Election Clerk Gen Krebs said that when some people first saw the machines, they seemed wary to use the new technology, but after voting they changed their minds.

"After they try it, they're not afraid of it," Krebs said.

Krebs said she was glad the machines were making their debut at a primary rather than a general election, where larger voter turnout could mean longer delays if people are not familiar with the machines.

Rose Black, supervising judge for Lansing Ward 1, and Krebs said they had several positive comments about the new machines. They were glad they would only have to print out a voter summary instead of counting physical paper ballots, as in the past.

Krebs said the machines also reduce the paper waste, because a voter can go back and correct the ballot electronically, instead of having to get an entirely new paper ballot.

"It even thanks you when you're finished," Krebs said, referring to the final screen on the machines.


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