October 1, 2008 By News Report
Kentucky's Office of the Secretary of State has displayed voting machines at the State Fair for the last five years but the demonstrations took on new meaning this year as over 30 counties are expected to move to digital scan voting equipment at the polls.
"This new equipment is user-friendly and provides voters with a very important tool in today's elections -- a voter verified paper record," said Secretary of State Trey Grayson. "I applaud the county clerks and fiscal courts in these counties for taking the lead in moving to these systems. I will continue to work with these officials to highlight the new voting systems as we head into the general election."
The equipment is a precinct-based voting system that digitally captures voter selections on printed ballots and integrates vote totals from absentee-by-mail and electronic voting systems to produce a single set of election reports. In fact, over 90 counties in Kentucky already use the machines for absentee balloting. The new systems should help reduce the time for unofficial vote totals to be tabulated on election night.
Voters will recognize the ballot casting procedure as similar to standardized tests where citizens fill in an oval to mark their selection. With the digital scan technology, the system reads the ballot, tabulates the results and preserves a digital image of the ballot. Multiple voters will be able to mark ballots at one time, reducing lines at the polls.
The capabilities of the equipment include functionality to reject overvoted and blank ballots thereby providing second chance voting at the precinct, just as voters would have through the use of the Direct Recording Equipment, commonly known as "electronic voting machines." With the equipment, voters know instantly if their ballot was accepted or rejected and have the opportunity to change or correct their ballot before it is cast and counted.
Each county will still have an accessible voting machine at each polling location in order to remain compliant with the Federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. Voters will have the choice to use either machine to cast their ballot.
"These systems should reduce wait times at the polls, provide quicker results, and bring even greater accountability to Kentucky's lauded elections process. I look forward to more counties implementing this technology," stated Grayson.
Counties will receive a reimbursement for a majority of the costs of the machines from the State Board of Elections. The money comes from Federal HAVA funds.