Barbara Zia has seen enough miscounts. As the president of the state chapter of the League of Women Voters, Zia is fighting for the state to replace its outdated voting machines in hopes of preserving another layer of security for democracy in South Carolina.
The league, praised for its nonpartisan concern for voting rights and access, recently commissioned an independent study of the state’s voting technology after snafus in the 2010 elections. According to Zia, the report found three basic problems with the current system.
One, the iVotronic machines were aging and replacement parts were no longer being manufactured. Two, the machines were too complicated for the committed poll managers to use, workers whom Zia said were basically volunteers working from before dawn to after daylight in some cases. And three, the electronic touch-screen machines do not provide enough of a paper trail to ensure truly correct elections.
Zia said that not only does the state need machines that provide a paper printout for poll managers and election officials to double-check, but voters need a printout of their vote so they can make sure their votes are being correctly recorded.
Zia, who lives in Mount Pleasant, is concerned that continued goof-ups could shine a negative light on South Carolina, with the first in the South 2012 presidential primary looming. “We’ve got to get this right,” Zia said.
The league has formed a task force to look into what kind of technology needs to be purchased to quickly replace the iVotronics system. But “quickly” may be in the eye of the beholder.
S.C. Election Commission spokesperson Chris Whitmire said last week that the current system, which cost $34 million originally, was only “halfway” through its useful lifespan. Paid for with the help of federal money in 2004, the system was fully implemented statewide in 2006. Whitmire said the current machines could see action as late as the 2016 elections.
But in September 2010, the commission’s executive director, Marci Andino, was quoted as saying the system was graying and that it would be fiscally irresponsible for the state to put any more money into add-ons to keep it absolutely current.
Full Article: Free Times: State Government – Counting the Vote.