THE 50 STATES<@VM>THE 50 STATES: Maryland to Wyoming

The general election cast a blinding glare on voting technology used by state and local governments. At times, the debate generated more heat than light.

This month, GCN/State & Local's 50 States section offers a roundup of voting technology used around the country for the Nov. 7 election.

The cartoon on the second 50 States page, drawn by Thomas Nast in the late 1800s for Harper's Weekly's successful campaign against Boss Tweed's corrupt Tammany Hall machine in New York City, reflects the enduring public demand for fair voting technology and procedures.

SEE MARK READ. Walker County used optical-mark readers from Election Systems and Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb., in its 71 precincts. The county has a population of about 70,000.

OVAL OFFICE. Alaskan voters kept their cool in November with the AccuVote ES2000 optical-scanning system from Global Election Systems Inc. of McKinney, Texas. Voters filled in an oval next to their candidate's name in pencil, black pen, "anything but red ink," said Gail Fenumiai, election programs specialist.

SMOOTH OPERATORS. In Sebastian County, voters used the OpTech III-P optical-scanning system from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb. Voters use a pen to mark their choices by connecting an arrow with a broken shaft.

AT THE COPA. Maricopa County voters exercised their democratic rights in November with the OpTech III-P Eagle optical- scan unit from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb. Voters selected their candidate by connecting the tail and point of an arrow with a black pen.

VOTOMAGIC. Alameda County used two kinds of voting systems. In some precincts, voters made their choices with the Votomatic 312 punch card system. In other precincts, voters cast their votes on the AccuVote TS electronic touch-screen system from Global Election Systems Inc. of McKinney, Texas.

PUNCH AND DUTY. Boulder County residents cast votes in November via the DataVote System from Sequoia Pacific Systems of Exeter, Calif., said Linda Flack, chief deputy of the Clerk's Office. Ballot information was printed on punch cards that voters inserted into a punching device. Votes were counted on an IBM RS/6000 workstation.

CHANGES AHEAD. The state is testing AccuVote optical-scan voting systems from Global Election Systems Inc. of McKinney, Texas. The state currently uses mechanical lever voting machines in all of its jurisdictions.

SATISFACTION GUARANTEED. The state implemented Electronic 1242 voting systems from Danaher Corp. of Washington, D.C., statewide in 1996. The state purchased 850 voting machines, hardware and software, and got a five-year warranty with the $4.8 million contract.

OUT WITH THE OLD. The city is exchanging its DataVote punch card equipment for optical-scan systems. The district is implementing OpTech Eagle voting systems from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb.

KNOW THE SCORE. Prescored punch cards were used in 14 counties. Electronic tabulation systems made by various vendors were used in 63 of the state's 67 counties. One county, Union, used manually tabulated paper ballots.

COUNT ME IN. About 1,000 Cherokee County absentee ballots were not counted because the file cabinet that held them was under a table, and election workers did not discover them there until the morning of Nov. 8. The ballots were later added to the official results. The county used optical-scan tabulation machines from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb.

PENMANSHIP. Each voting precinct in the Aloha State used the M100 optical-scanning voting system from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb. Voters filled in a space next to the candidates' names with the ballpoint pen provided. The precincts sent both the ballots and a Personal Computer Memory Card International Association card with the vote count back to the Elections Office to be loaded into a central database.

PAPER CHASE. Paper was alive and well in Idaho's November elections. Sixteen counties used hand-counted paper ballots, said Penny Ysursa, a secretary with the Secretary of State for Elections.

Fourteen Idaho counties used the Votomatic system from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb.; the other 14 used an optical-scan system from ES&S.

What's up in your agency?
For governments east of the Mississippi, call 301-650-2145 or e-mail [email protected]. For those west, call 301-650-2238 or e-mail [email protected].

BUT WHO'S COUNTING? The Land of Lincoln left election night results reporting up to the news media. Why? Local officials in the state's 102 counties did not want to share the spotlight with state officials and because the media reports results for free, state government sources said.

ON NOTICE. The state spent $900,000 in an effort to clean up its voter registration rolls. The Elections Division sent out 202,268 notices to registered voters letting them know they were registered more than once. The state received only about 25,000 replies.

COUNTING HAWKEYES. Harry Davis, the commissioner of elections, has asked the Legislature for authorization and funding to study upgrading Iowa's equipment for maintaining election data.

CONSOLIDATED CARTRIDGES. Johnson County voters used the AVC Advantage electronic voting system from Sequoia Pacific Systems of Exeter, Calif. Voters pushed a button next to their candidate of choice.

The votes were stored on a hard drive and a removable cartridge. Election officials compiled the results of each cartridge on a standalone PC that tabulated the votes.

BUNGLED BALLOTING. Officials blamed an election night foul-up on an obsolete application and its poor documentation. The state's Web site displayed wildly fluctuating vote totals for a proposed constitutional amendment on annual legislative sessions. Fielding Hodgkin, information systems manager with the State Board of Elections, said the state's system was combining votes on the legislative session amendment with those on a proposed amendment to abolish the Railroad Commission.

POLL CATS. "We used three different types of foolproof voting machines," said Warren Ponder, spokesman for the secretary of state. Two parishes used Shoup lever voting machines, a technology that dates back to 1892. Another fifty parishes used generic Print-O-Matic voting machines, which print out voting results on the back of the machine on a large carbon sheet. The rest of the state's parishes used overlay ballots on AVC Advantage systems from Sequoia Pacific Systems of Exeter, Calif.

ON THE WATERFRONT. Portland used OpTech Eagle optical-scan voting systems from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb. Municipal governments preside over Maine's voting jurisdictions. Portland has 44,000 registered voters.MARYLAND
REPORT TO ME. Last month, Gov. Parris N. Glendening formed the Special Committee on Voting Systems and Procedures to evaluate voting procedures, review existing recount methods and recommend changes.

NOT IN OUR STATE. The state banned Votomatic machines in 1998. The commonwealth used optical-scan voting systems in 73 percent of its 2,100 precincts. A little more than 20 percent of the precincts used lever voting machines, 4.5 percent used paper ballots and 2 percent used Datavote punch card systems, originally made by Diamond International, now owned by Sequoia Pacific Systems of Exeter, Calif.

MOTOR VOTER. The Bureau of Elections deployed its Qualified Voter File, which it has been developing since enactment of the federal National Voting Rights Act or Motor Voter law in 1993. The $7 million system uses a Compaq Computer Corp. server in Lansing running Oracle7 Release 7.4 under Unix to link to more than 450 jurisdictions, where PCs running Personal Oracle under Microsoft Windows NT or 98 upload data via the Internet daily.

SHOW ME RESULTS. All 116 of the state's voting jurisdictions reported their unofficial results by 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 8. The Office of the Secretary of State processed returns with a custom Election Night Reporting System built by G.A. Sullivan of St. Louis.

FLYING CONVERSION. The Office of the Secretary of State for the first time posted official election returns from each of the state's 82 counties on its Web site, at The office stores the returns, called recapitulation sheets, as TIFF images; an application built by state officials converts the images to Adobe Portable Document Format on the fly when system users call them up.

CRUNCHY NUMBERS. In the November poll, the Elections Division of the Office of the Secretary of State for the first time provided rapidly updated, precinct-level election returns via the Web. Division chief information officer Bill Batcher engineered the improvement by hiring Arran Technology Inc. of Roseville to help create Microsoft Active Server Pages for the state's Unisys Corp. mainframe.

MERRY IN MISSOULA. Missoula County's 74 precincts were satisfied with OpTech 315 optical-scan equipment from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb., said Vickie Zeier, election administrator. "It went really smoothly," she said.
FOUR SITE. Douglas County posted sample ballots on the Elections Commission Web site, at, so voters could review ballots well before they entered the voting booth. County precincts used the OpTech 3 optical-scanning system from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha.

RECOUNT REDEMPTION. Nevada knows all about recounts. In 1998, a statewide recount followed an unusually close Senate race. The state's 17 counties used the same voting equipment as they did before the recount. Seven counties used punch card systems, nine used optical-scanning systems and one'Clark County'used a direct-record electronic system, the Advantage D from Sequoia Pacific Systems of Exeter, Calif.

TOWN MEETING. Each town and ward is a separate voting precinct, said Karen Ladd, assistant secretary of state. About half of the precincts used the OpTech III-P Eagle optical-scan unit from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb. The rest used the AccuVote ES2000 optical-scanning system from Global Election Systems Inc. of McKinney, Texas.

LESSONS LEARNED. Democratic Sen. Robert G. Torricelli has called for a presidential commission to make recommendations about voting system upgrades. His state used lever machines and punch card systems, as well as direct-record electronic equipment in some areas.

BILINGUAL BALLOTS. Los Alamos County since 1992 has been using OpTech III-P Eagle optical-scan voting systems from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb., said Estefanita Stacey, chief deputy clerk. The county's 17 precincts print all ballots in both English and Spanish.

LEND A HAND. The state predominantly used mechanical lever voting machines. The machines were invented in Rochester in 1892 by safe maker Jacob H. Myers. The devices were first used in Lockport on April 15, 1892. Lever voting machines record totals on odometerlike counters after voters pull the levers.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS. Guilford County used Votronic touch-screens from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb., countywide for this election. The county first used the system in 1995 and was the first voting jurisdiction to deploy the system. The term pregnant chad was coined in Guilford in 1986 during a contested congressional race between Robin Britt and Rep. Howard Coble (R).

HANGING JUDGE. Most counties used a hand-counted paper ballot or optical-scanning system, said Secretary of State Al Jaeger. Only one county used punch cards. In the 1996 statewide recount, the punch card count came out with the same tallies as the first count. "When the ballots come in, they just make sure no chads are hanging," Jaeger said.

BUCKEYE VOTES. Franklin County used Electronic 1242 voting systems from Danaher Corp. of Washington, D.C., in its 12 cities, 13 villages and 17 townships. The largest city in the county is Columbus, with a population of 696,849.

STRENGTH IN UNITY. Every county in Oklahoma used the same voting system: the OpTech III-P optical-scanning system from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb. The ballot is scanned and read in front of the voter.

MARVELOUS MAIL-IN. Multnomah County used a Model 550 optical-scan system from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb., to count the all-mail-in ballots. County officials told voters to use No. 2 pencils to mark ballots, "but if they didn't, we could still handle it," said Vicki Ervin, county elections supervisor. "The mail-in election was terrific, a huge success."

SMORGASBORD. The commonwealth used a variety of equipment: mechanical lever, optical-scan, prescored punch card and electronic. A few jurisdictions used hand-counted paper ballots. Patricia A. Fowler, chief custodian of the Voting Machine Department, said Delaware County used lever machines that are no longer in production.

SCAN IT. All of the state's voting jurisdictions used OpTech Eagle optical-scan voting systems from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb. About 28 percent of the country's polls used optical- scan equipment.

SHOUP SOUP. Sixteen counties used the Shouptronic 1242 electronic voting machine from Danaher Corp. of Washington, D.C. The rest used optical-scan or prescored punch cards.

STANDARD TIME. Two legislative and three county commissioner races were recounted and settled without dispute, thanks to the state's clear recount standards, election supervisor Chris Nelson said. Each ballot is hand-examined, then an election board determines whether to do the actual recounting by hand or machine. The state also has well-defined standards of what is countable and what is not, he said.

ACCESSING VOLUNTEERS. All but four of the 95 counties provided unofficial election results for the Division of Elections' Web site on election night, even though the state used more types of voting machines than any other, said Steve Griffey, the division's assistant director of information systems. The division compiles returns in a Microsoft Access database.

BAD CHAD. "Hanging chad" is new to the American lexicon, but Harris County election officials have been using the term since 1982, said Tony Sirvello, administrator of elections. That's the year the county got the Votomatic 312 punch card voting system from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb.

MAD FOR CHAD. Salt Lake County had fewer problems than usual with its Votomatic 312 punch card system from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb. "Our ballot card stock was a little thinner than usual," said Audrey Sharpsteen, assistant elections manager. "So we had fewer chad problems."

EARLY OPTION. About 75 percent of the state's registered voters went to the polls in November. The state attributed the high turnout to an early voting option that let voters fill out ballots in the 30 days prior to election day. Absentee ballots totaled 57,031, or 19 percent of the total cast.

WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE. A new program has helped the State Board of Elections purge about 17,000 felons and more than 51,000 dead people from voting lists. The Prohibitive Voter Match Program compared State Police records of felons and Health Department death records to the state's 4.1 million registered voters.

WAIT, MR. POSTMAN. King County has used the AccuVote ES2000 optical-scanning system from Global Election Systems Inc. of McKinney, Texas, for two years with no problems, said Julie Anne Kempf, superintendent of elections. Could Washington follow neighbor Oregon and try an all-mail election? "People love the option of voting absentee," Kempf said. "But making it the only way of voting is probably not going to happen in this state."

NO TRAIL. Cabell County voters used the standalone Votronic touch-screen voting system in November. The battery-powered unit from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb., weighs 7 pounds and is a little larger than a notebook. "The downside of the Votronic is that there's no paper trail," said John Denbigh, vice president of Castro & Harris Inc. of Spencer, the company that supplies ballots and voting systems to most of the state's counties.

72 SKIDOO. About 80 percent of Wisconsin's 72 counties and municipalities that hold recorded votes by optical-scan or mark-sensing equipment; 7 percent used punch cards and the rest used lever machines or paper ballots. Fewer than half of the counties sent returns to the State Elections Board electronically.

PUT YOUR PENCILS DOWN. Laramie County voters filled in ovals on optically scanned ballots to cast their votes. The county used the AccuVote ES2000 optical-scan system from Global Election Systems Inc. of McKinney, Texas.


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