(Frankfort, KY) Voters in forty-two counties across Kentucky are expected to vote for the first time on new digital scan voting systems in the upcoming primary election. The system provides a voter verified paper record, something Secretary of State Trey Grayson has encouraged counties to consider when they adopt voting systems.
“This new equipment is user-friendly and provides voters with a very important tool in today’s elections—a voter verified paper record,” said Secretary of State Trey Grayson. “I applaud the County Clerks and Fiscal Courts in these counties for taking the lead in moving to these systems.”
Seven counties first used the new systems during the 2008 primary election with 27 counties following suit in the 2008 general election. The reviews from voters, precinct officials, and county clerks alike were outstanding.
The equipment, called eScans, is a precinct-based voting system that digitally captures voter selections on printed ballots and integrates vote totals from absentee-by-mail and electronic voting systems to produce a single set of election reports. In fact, over 90 counties in Kentucky already use the machines for absentee balloting. The new systems should help reduce the time for unofficial vote totals to be tabulated on election night.
Voters will recognize the ballot casting procedure as similar to standardized tests where citizens fill in an oval to mark their selection. With the digital scan technology, the system reads the ballot, tabulates the results, and preserves a digital image of the ballot. Multiple voters will be able to mark ballots at one time, reducing lines at the polls.
Jefferson County has used similar technology called optical scan for over 20 years. That system, the Accuvote OS, also produces a voter verified paper record. The 77 counties using digital or optical scan technology account for 75% of the voting population in Kentucky, up from 40% in the 2008 general election. According to the Pew Center on the States, nearly 60% of Americans voted using paper-based voting such as optical and digital scans in the 2008 election. That number is expected to increase dramatically in 2010 as New York, Tennessee, Maryland, and Virginia counties shift either gradually or completely to the paper-based voting systems.
eScan’s capabilities include functionality to reject overvoted and blank ballots thereby providing second chance voting at the precinct, just as voters would have through the use of the Direct Recording Equipment, commonly known as “electronic voting machines.” With eScan, voters know instantly if their ballot was accepted or rejected and have the opportunity to change or correct their ballot before it is cast and counted.
Each county will still have an accessible voting machine at each polling location in order to remain compliant with the Federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. Voters will have the choice to use either machine to cast their ballot.
The State Board of Elections has provided HAVA funds to help counties transition to the technology. Counties receive approximately $4,500 per precinct to purchase new voting equipment which will cover a majority of the costs of the machines.
“These systems should reduce wait times at the polls, provide quicker results, and bring even greater accountability to Kentucky’s lauded elections process. I look forward to more counties implementing this technology,” stated Grayson.
In Kentucky, the State Board of Elections certifies voting machines that have been approved to federal voting system standards. County fiscal courts, with consultation from county clerks and county boards of elections, purchase machines that have been properly certified by the state. The decision of which certified voting system to purchase and use remains with local officials.
The following counties have purchased the new systems for expected use in the primary election: