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Monday, OCT 01, 2007
EDITORIAL: Elections officials find good solution for ballots
   After a software glitch rendered their electronic voting machines unusable for the Nov. 6 general election, Wayne County officials scrambled for a solution.

   While voters may be shocked to be handed a piece of paper at the polls in November, they need to remember that the Board of Elections had no other cost-effective alternative. The old lever-style machines have been scrapped and new software for their 100 WINvote electronic voting machines would not be certified by the state in time. Purchasing other equipment would have cost the county thousands of dollars.

   Faced with the unfortunate need to use paper ballots, the Board of Elections initially decided to hire additional help to manually count the ballots at the courthouse instead of acquiring expensive scanning equipment. This would have cost about $12,000 for the added manpower and to print the ballots.

   However, through the perseverance of county officials, the state Department of State has agreed to fund the leasing of an eScan digital ballot imaging system that would have cost county taxpayers $53,000. This equipment will not only expedite tabulating the results on election night, it will also ensure that the counts are accurate.

   Also, the company that is providing the eScan, Hart InterCivic, will print the ballots and provide personnel to operate its equipment. This means there will be no time or money wasted training county employees how to use equipment that should be used only once.

   We salute the Board of Elections for finding what is certainly the best solution to a bad situation and acquiring the eScan equipment at no expense to the county.

   Wayne County officials did not know until late August that there might be a problem with the WINvote machines and immediately began planning alternatives if they could not be used. The board should be commended for obtaining this equipment at no cost to taxpayers.

   We encourage the Board of Elections to stay on top of the Department of State and Advanced Voting Solutions, the manufacturers of the WINvote machines, to make sure the proper changes are made to allow the county’s electronic voting machines to be used in future elections. County taxpayers paid nearly $300,000 for 100 WINvote machines and that money shouldn’t be allowed to sit on a shelf while other equipment and paper ballots are used to run the county’s elections.

   If a solution to the WINvote’s technical problem can not be found and the machine can’t be certified in the near future, county officials should seek a refund from Advanced Voting Solutions and obtain electronic voting machines from another supplier.


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