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Election commission discusses voting machine legislation

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Members of the Dyer County Election Commission discuss legislation which would delay the use of optical-scan machines in the upcoming 2010 elections. Pictured from left: Eric Maupin, Jerry Jackson, Chairman Joe Enoch, Thomas Parnell (back turned), Administrator Jane Heathcott and Harold Sartin.
The Dyer County Election Commission met last month for its final meeting of 2009.

This was their was first commission meeting since Chairman Joe Enoch won his bid for president of the Tennessee Association of County Election Officials (TACEO), which was in July of last year.

Enoch reminded the board that in 2008 the Tennessee Legislature voted in the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act (TVCA), which requires counties to go to optical-scan machines in the 2010 elections. These machines read paper ballots, thus leaving a paper record of a person's vote.

The technical standards of these machines must meet the United States Election Assistance Commission's (EAC) 2005 standards.

Enoch said there might be one manufacturer in Tennessee that has the machines that may possibly meet the 2005 standards. However, they have not been used in an actual election anywhere in the United States.

In 2009, the Tennessee House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to delay the legislation of the use of the optical-scan voting machines until 2012. However, the motion to delay their use fell one vote short in the Senate.

Enoch said TACEO fought hard to delay the legislation, but will get another chance this month.

"We're hopeful that the Senate will go back in session in early January and vote that delay in," said Enoch. "There's no guarantee of it."

He said the vote would not have to go before the House again, just the Senate.

Enoch said TACEO had the votes in the Senate, but two senators missed the vote. He was hopeful those senators would be present for this vote.

"Waste about $30 million," said Enoch.

If the vote to delay the use of optical-scan machines wins, counties will be able to use their current machines. Dyer County would save between $75,000-$85,000.

"We still have our 135 machines sitting right up there," said Dyer County Election Administrator Jane Heathcott, pointing toward the attic of the election commission.

Enoch said TACEO met in October to compile a list of people who would help write the rules and regulations for the optical-scan machines. At the end of the day, they concluded they needed to adopt punch-card rules and adjust them a bit.

Heathcott said one problem with the optical-scan machines was that when the machine is full, the ballots inside the voting area must be removed.

"With punch cards they were locked in," said Heathcott.

Enoch said Dyer County's current machines could be retrofitted, but that posed problems in and of itself.

Enoch also told members of the commission about the upcoming TACEO Legislative Breakfast which would be in Nashville on Jan. 19.

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alot of "experience" in that room

looks like they could use some "fresh" eyes on some of the policies

time for dyersburg to accept change and growth

-- Posted by evolve on Wed, Jan 6, 2010, at 6:42 PM

This story repeats the falsehood that the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act mandates use of machines built to 2005 standards. A recent court case found that this is not so, and that the tried-and-true optical scan vote counters used in most other states and many other countries will be quite sufficient. California recently decertified the touch screen machines TACIR insists on using, replacing them with optical scan vote counters and paper ballots. In another recent court decision, Germany's supreme court declared that electronic voting machines are unconstitutional in Germany because there is no way to assure the accuracy of the count. There is simply no good reason not to vote in a verifiable, recountable way.

-- Posted by brothermartin on Thu, Jan 7, 2010, at 6:37 PM

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