> Ruth Chavira-Lopez and Anthony Regala


> Gearing Up for Electronic Voting


>Responding to the decertification of punch card voting systems in California,

>and the deadline of March 2004 set by the Federal Court for their replacement,

>the County of Santa Clara issued a request for proposals from qualified

>firms to provide a new Direct Recording Voting System and calling for a

>pilot project to be in place by the November 2002 election. Demonstrations

>of various types of electronic voting devices were held this past August.


>Ruth Chavira-Lopez, the Pilot Program Manager for the Santa Clara County

>Registrar of Voters, and Anthony Regala, Information Systems Specialist,

>will present a brief discussion of the new electronic voting devices that

>Santa Clara County is considering. You will have an opportunity to try

>these voting systems and provide Ruth and Anthony with your feedback.


Ruth's presentation was basically an announcement that we are going to have to get new voting equipment. Right now they have pilot projects going, and they are trying to get feedback from users about which of the available systems to go for. People that couldn't try them today are invited to come down the Registrars office at 155 Berger Drive in San Jose to try them out.

After that we had Q&A, and a lot of interesting things came out:

It's true that punch card voting systems are very cheap on a per station basis. When they were installed, the whole computer industry was also punch card based, so punch card readers and sorters were also cheap and easy to get. The problem is that since then the computer industry has moved on to very different equipment, and the market for voting machinery isn't large enough to support the manufacturing base necessary to make punch card ballots as cheap as they used to be. Because of this, pressure has been building on the need to get new equipment for a long time.

The touch screen stations that Santa Clara County is looking at getting probably cost something like $2000 per voting booth. This is at least 10 times what the paper ballot punching booths that we are used to using cost. The project is probably going to cost us something like $30 million before it is finished.

Almost all of the electronic voting systems on the market use proprietary software and systems. All of the ones that the county is looking at buying include a complete system to count the votes as well as the machinery to collect them at the polling place.

Electronic voting will make it possible for the Registrar to announce the result of the election at most a couple of hours after the polls close.

The last thing Ruth had to say was that people that couldn't try out the new kinds of voting equipment today are invited to come down the Registrars office at 155 Berger Drive in San Jose to try them out.

Tian Harter