Lawmakers yesterday debated two bills that could affect future island elections — ending the recently approved process for early in-office voting and paving the way for the return of controversial electronic voting machines. Lawmakers debated another election bill by Respicio, which would allow for the use of electronic voting machines, provided the machines print a “voter-verified paper ballot” which the voter can double-check before placing into a ballot box.
Respicio in 2006 wrote a law banning the use of electronic voting machines until several conditions are met, including training and safeguards for accuracy. The Election Commission spent nearly half a million dollars in federal election assistance funding to buy 116 Ivotronic electronic voting machines, according to Pacific Daily News files.
Respicio’s law banned their use after tabulation mistakes during the 2004 General Election that were repeated during the 2006 Primary Election. The machines were working properly, but the commission didn’t operate them correctly, including using the wrong cartridges to extract voting information from some machines, causing some precinct results to go unreported.
Bill supporter Rodriguez yesterday said requiring a voter-verified paper ballot brings the island closer to electronic voting, one step at a time. “My verified paper ballot is a security for me to know that my vote will be counted,” said Sen. Tina Muña Barnes, who also stated her support for the bill.