Improving The Voting Process - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

03/28/05 - Nacogdoches

Improving The Voting Process

by Donna McCollum

Nacogdoches County Voter Registrar Debra Gaston is preparing now, so in 2006 the county will be in compliance with federal law that protects the rights of the disabled. "The whole idea is to allow a person who is visually or hearing impaired to vote a secret ballot," said Gaston.

Current voting machines don't entirely allow this, but digital balloting can. The plus for everyone is fast election results. Gaston explained, "Eventually I think we will be seeing a lot more counties do away with central counting procedures. And what this system does is actually count the ballot as the voter drops it in the box."

Throughout next month voting systems will be demonstrated for Nacogdoches County leaders. Several models are out there. It will be their job to decide which one is the best to buy. The state is providing about $400,000 toward the hardware purchase. Software will be at the county's expense at each election.

Before any system can be purchased the review of polling places must come first. Voters cast their votes all sorts of places, but if they don't meet strict ADA requirements a move must be made. Gaston said, "Where there is a school within the boundaries of an existing polling place we are going to try to go to the schools."

Public schools have already made adjustments, whereas fire stations and civic buildings may not have.

Some voters will have to change their voting habits, but it will mean for the first time all voters will have equal rights.

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