Electronic Voting Equipment Demonstrated - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

04/12/05 - Nacogdoches

Electronic Voting Equipment Demonstrated

Jason Barnett ES&S Sales Associate Jason Barnett ES&S Sales Associate

by Donna McCollum

There are some changes in store for voters in East Texas. Changes in federal and state election laws have counties shopping for new election equipment. They must have it by next year. The new technology is a lot different from the old paper ballot.

Nacogdoches County Commissioner Charles Simmons tried out one of the newest voting machines on the market. Instead of filling in a bubble with a pencil, he makes his selection with a finger touch. "I'm not very literate, yet as for as the computer thing, but this to me is pretty simple," said Simmons.

Simplicity is a major selling point according to Election Administrator Debra Gaston. "We want it as user friendly for our voters, for our election workers because they will be assisting voters."

Sales associate Jason Barnett patiently went over the steps voting electronically with the commissioners. His hopes is to convince them his company is the one to buy from. "We have a review screen that shows all the individual selections for every race on the ballot. If I want to go back and review," instructed Barnett.

Federal law is requiring election equipment that makes a voter's intention clear. The machine is designed to catch oversights and give voters an opportunity to fix mistakes, even those made by Commissioner Tom Strickland. "Well, that was my intention. I want to turn this back in and vote again," after discovering an under vote. Barnett replied, "That's the benefit. Absolutely."

The equipment is sophisticated, but costly. Even with state assistance there's the ongoing expense of maintenance and software. When the county already has a voting system that works, it leaves Nacogdoches County Judge Sue Kennedy asking, "Are we really trying to fix something that's not broken?"

Which is why with most machines voters will have a choice to pencil in a paper ballot or make a selection on the magic screen.

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