Monday, November 1, 2004

Counties quiet about paper ballots

From Staff Reports, Alameda Newspaper Group, October 31, 2004


California's electronic-voting counties agreed this summer to make paper provisional ballots available for voters wary of touch-screen machines.

But most aren't going to tell anyone, according to a survey by the California Voter Foundation.

Only two of the 10 touch-screen counties, Santa Clara and Plumas, plan to post signs letting voters know they can vote on paper.

Whether the voters are properly registered, three counties -- Alameda, Merced and San Bernardino -- plan to treat the e-voting objectors' ballots in the same manner as if they weren't registered. Those ballots will be handled like other provisional ballots given to voters of questionable registration. Voters will have to sign them and have their registration verified. The ballots will be counted last.

Santa Clara and six other counties either won't make e-voting objectors sign the ballot envelope or will mark the paper ballots to signify that the voter is registered, according to the foundation's survey.

Alameda County Assistant Registar of Voters Elaine Ginnold said, "The polling place really isn't the place to ask for paper. There's not enough for that."

California Voter Foundation President Kim Alexander said Alameda's rules unnecessarily "may jeopardize the voter's right to ballot secrecy and may raise doubts in the voters' minds as to whether their ballots will be counted. Voters who want to cast paper ballots should not be accorded second-class status."

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