Commission voices opposition to voter confidence act
|An Emery County voter uses the electronic voting machine in the election last year.|
Commissioners voice their disapproval in commission meeting of proposed House of Representatives bill 811.
The Emery County Commission voted to adopt a resolution stating their disapproval of the proposed, Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007.
This bill if passed would make the newly implemented electronic voting machines illegal to use. The bill proposes the return to the paper ballot.
The bill is now being considered by Congress. Emery County's letter of opposition states Emery County currently has 40 DRE electronic voting machines valued at over $150,000, and has invested several hundred dollars in additional funds to warehouse the machines, revamp election processes to accommodate the voting machines and train the election personnel in the operation of the electronic machines.
Emery County feels a change to the new voting system would erode voter confidence in the election process and burden Emery County with additional expenses associated with a change to another new voting system.
A survey conducted by the Brigham Young University Center For the Study of Elections and Democracy states that 95 percent of those responding to the survey felt somewhat confident their ballots would be counted accurately. This independent survey polled voters in Utah's third congressional district after the primary election.
The resolution with Emery County's stance will be forwarded to the Utah Association of Counties. UAC will be the agency at some point which will present the opposition letters and resolutions gathered, from the Utah counties, to the Washington delegation from Utah and if necessary will make these letters available to the rest of Congress.
Arie Vandegraaff from UAC said the bill is in the House and when it comes out of the House into the Senate they hope members of the Senate will kill the bill as it is drafted. This bill is also a concern to the National Association of counties as well as the state association. This bill as written would make it difficult, if not impossible to do all it is asking. The DRE voting machines would be required to install new printers to attach to each machine which would be expensive. All requirements from the bill would be required to be in place by 2010.
"There were a couple of problems in the past election, but poor training of poll workers was the source of the problem; not the machines. There were problems in Florida and Ohio, and here in Utah County, but these problems were human error and not the machines themselves," said Vandegraaff.
Some counties were reluctant to switch to the new machines to start with and now that everyone has switched further changes can be frustrating especially when the new system seemed to work well in recent elections. Vandegraff mentioned that the old punchcard system worked well in Utah, too and attributed the success with that system to good maintenance of the system. The problems in the Florida election a few years back were due in part to failure to maintain the system.