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Johnson County Going With Optical Scan Machines

By Rick Dawson WISH-TV Indiana   26 August 2004

Since February, I-Team 8 has been investigating new voting technology. We're less than ten weeks before the election, but there are still concerns about the technology.

The state election commission is meeting Thursday to make sure voting machines are properly certified. I-Team 8’s investigation showed some of them used in the primary were not, and county clerks were forced to use illegal firmware because of a technical snafu.

Three counties in central Indiana, Johnson, Henry and Wayne, used voting machines in the primary that had illegal firmware. Electronic Systems and Software (ES&S), the company supplying the machines, learned late in the game that the machines hadn't been properly certified.

At issue Thursday is whether the machines can be approved by the fall election. ES&S technicians are explaining how a newer version has been tested. If the commission is satisfied, it will sign off on the certification.

Johnson County Goes with Optical Scan Machines
Faced with those problems, Johnson County has made a decision to use optical scan machines instead of the touch screen machines for the upcoming election in November.

The county gave an ultimatum to ES&S. "ES&S was not able to certify the Ivotronic system by our deadline of Friday, August 20,” said Jill Jackson, Johnson County clerk.

On Thursday, the Johnson County election board made the decision to use the Model 100, or optical scan machine, as voters would know it, for the November election.

"It's very easy to use. I think our voters are going to be in good shape with this for the fall,” said Jackson.

The board has been working with ES&S to try and get the $2.4 million worth of Ivotronic touch screens certified. "Our problems originated because ES&S sold Johnson County uncertified equipment,” said Jackson.

Jackson demonstrated the machine voters will use at its 104 poll sites. Voters have used the optical scanners before. It requires filling out a paper ballot and feeding it through.

"We've discussed training issues, delivery issues, ballot issues and so forth have all been resolved,” said John Groh, ES&S.

If the electricity goes out, there's even a locked manual box where ballots can be placed.

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