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Nevada officials back e-vote systems for primary, general election

It's the first state to use the touch-screen machines with printers

By Todd R. Weiss
August 17, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Nevada election officials are confident that an electronic voting system being used for the state's Sept. 7 primary will perform well, despite a problem that showed up in a demonstration of the technology this month in California. Nevada also plans to use the system for the general election in November.
During the demonstration, which was given by vendor Sequoia Voting Systems Inc. to several members of the California state legislature, Sequoia personnel showed how a newly integrated VeriVote printer upgrade worked with the company's AVC Edge touch-screen voting system. Using the touch-screen device, a voter chooses a candidate and then sees the vote on a paper record for verification. Only after the voter verifies that the vote on the paper record is correct is his vote electronically tallied, according to Oakland, Calif.-based Sequoia Voting Systems.
In the California demonstration, the device worked as designed with a ballot printed in English. But when a Spanish-language ballot was used, votes for a sample proposition weren't printed on paper records.
Steve George, a spokesman for the Nevada secretary of state's office, said the company attributed the error to the design of the ballot and insufficient proofreading before conducting the demonstration.
"There's nothing that made us say, 'Man, this isn't going to work,'" George said. "We're confident enough to invite the nation here on Aug. 28" for early voting, when Nevadans who can't make it to the polls on primary day are allowed to cast their ballots ahead of time. About 50% of the voters in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, use early voting, he said. About 70% of the state's population resides in Clark County.
Elsewhere around the state, no major problems have been reported as testing and configuration of the new electronic voting systems are being completed, he said.
Nevada will be the first state to use an electronic voting system that incorporates a system for printing paper records for verification, George said. Many states, including Nevada, have been using touch-screen voting machines for several years, but the machines lacked a paper trail that could be used to settle potential ballot disputes.
Alfie Charles, a spokesman for Sequoia, said the California problem occurred when he asked company employees to do a "quick demonstration" for several members of the legislature earlier this month.
"No one proofread the Spanish ballot," he said. "The machine itself and the software did exactly what they were told to do," but no one had checked ahead to be sure that the Spanish ballot displayed correctly. "We didn't proof it because we were just trying to

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Staff member at a senior center calls this pilot fish, complaining that her printer won't work. And since she's the kind of user who thinks computers just get in the way of getting her job done, fish has his work cut out for him.