County will not force people to use machines
Senior Staff Writer
Despite new electronic voting machines, you will not be forced to use them on Nov. 7.
Unless you volunteer to use the new “touch screen” voting machine, you will get a paper ballot ” just like in the past.
“Our office assumes everybody wants a paper ballot,” Smith said. “If they want to use a touch-screen voting unit, they must request to do so, either for early voting or at the polls.”
Many voters are under the assumption they will have to use voting machines this year, Smith said. But they only have to be offered to fulfill federal guidelines for disabled voters.
“We’re doing everything we can to reassure voters that no one is going to be forced to vote electronically,” Smith said.
Smith said elections clerks will be the most affected by the machines. “They have to set the equipment up, maintain all the security and account for the chain of custody” of the votes, she said. The clerks will also assist electronic voters.
Besides the new voting machines, a new optional scanner aimed at eliminating voter errors will be introduced in this fall’s election. The scanners can view your ballot before it is submitted.
“It tells the voter if they’ve overvoted on a contest” by accidentally marking the ballot for two candidates or for voting both yes and no on an issue, Smith said. It allows the voter to cancel the original ballot and cast a new one.
If you use a paper ballot, don’t forget to use a ballpoint with dark ink. “‘DO NOT USE PENCIL,'” the Nevada County voter information pamphlet reads.
Election clerks also will have their hands full counting absentee ballots. More than half of Nevada County’s 62,452 registered voters cast absentee ballots. “It can make a huge difference in a close race,” Smith said. “Every absentee is counted,” even if enough votes have been cast to call a race one way or another.
Many absentees walk into the county headquarters in Nevada City and polling places at the last minute on election night, making it more difficult to call close races. “Our business is to count them all,” Smith said. Last-minute absentees have to be processed, tabulated and added to the vote totals, a procedure that typically starts the day after the election.
Provisional ballots also have to be handled at the last minute. Those ballots are from voters whose eligibility to vote could not be established or by those who chose to vote at a polling place they were not assigned to.
“There’s fewer provisional votes but they take greater research to see if the voters can vote and what the ballot compares to what they were entitled to vote for,” Smith said. “We also check all ballots against each other to make sure people haven’t voted twice.”
Smith’s office is given 30 days to verify and check all ballots.
To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4237.
Contacting Kathleen Smith,
HEW Building, 10433 Willow Valley Road, Suite E
Nevada City, CA 95959-2367
530-265-1298. (530) 265-9829 Fax
Hours 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Web sites: http://www.mynevadacounty.com/elections
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