Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Commissioners brush off concerns about electronic voting

The County Commissioners shrugged off concerns about the integrity of electronic voting, Wednesday.

Their comments came in response to questions from NewsLanc asking them to reconsider their recent approval of funding for the purchase of additional voting machines, including 54 electronic "eSlate" machines.

Commissioner Scott Martin said, "The security process that the eSlates go through before an election and the zero tapes that must be measured is to the extreme. And those machines are locked and secured."

He also cited "very long lines [and] a lot of standing and waiting" as a justification for allowing voters the option of using the electronic eSlate machine.

He added, "I think, as long as we have that option in place, our goal is to make sure that we're not disenfranchising voters because of long lines."

Commissioner Craig Lehman, the lone Democrat on the Board of Commissioners, said, "I would certainly encourage voters to use the eScan machines, but I am not willing to sacrifice accessibility for those who need it."

Lehman went on to say,"I am hopeful that the state, at some point, will certify a verifiable paper trail for the eSlate machines."

He added, "I think the point that is valid is the issue of recount - having a paper trail in the event of a recount - which is why I'm encouraging voters to use the eScan."

NewsLanc's reporter retorted that the issue of long lines can also be allayed by purchasing additional eScan machines and that the concern about long lines is superseded by the concern about the integrity of the election in the first place.

The Commissioners did not comment further on the issue.

Mary Stehman and Diane Skilling of the elections office told us that eSlate votes are "stored in three separate places" within the machine, and that they are "extremely confident" in the security of the process.