Local News

State Officials Get Look At New Voting Machines

Posted December 20, 2004 5:47 a.m. EST

— State lawmakers are hoping to prevent the Carteret County fiasco from ever happening again. They got a firsthand look at all kinds of voting machines.

If you voted in Harnett County, you used an optical scan machine. The 14-year old model is said to be outdated, but not as outdated as punch cards still used in six counties.

Carteret County's touch-screen machine was not programmed for enough ballots and failed to record 4,400 votes, which prompted state officials to get a jump on meeting new federal standards expected next year.

"I would think there would have been a double-check or a buzzer that went off or lights that would have blinked, but unfortunately none of that took place," said Carteret County technician Arnold Sanderson.

While state officials consider which machines to use in the future, one of the leading contenders is an electronic machine that records votes on paper as a backup.

"If you were to install a machine equipped with a paper audit trail, the whole machine itself could disappear and if we had that paper record, we could do an automated recount of the paper trail itself," vendor Berkley Trumbo said.

Commission members said it will take much more study before any machine gets their vote. Critics said electronic machines with a so-called paper trail have problems of their own. The study commission meets again in January.