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Paper ballots available, sort of

Those who opt not to use e-voting machines in Alameda County face provisional status

By STAFF REPORTS  Oakland Tribune  31 October 2004

California's electronic-voting counties agreed this summer to make paper provisional ballots available for voters wary of touchscreen machines.

But most aren't going to tell anyone, according to a survey by the California Voter Foundation.

Only two of the 10 touchscreen counties, Santa Clara and Plumas, plan to post signs letting voters know they can vote on paper.

Even though the voters are properly registered, three counties Alameda, Merced and San Bernardino plan to treat the e-voting objectors' ballots in the same manner as if they weren't registered.

Those ballots will be handled like other provisional ballots given to voters of questionable registration. Voters will have to sign them and have their registration verified. The ballots won't be counted until all other votes are counted.   

Santa Clara and six other counties either won't make e-voting objectors sign the ballot envelope or will mark the paper ballots to signify that the voter is registered, according to the survey.

Alameda County Assistant Registar of Voters Elaine Ginnold said, "The polling place really isn't the place to ask for paper. There's not enough for that."

California Voting Foundation president Kim Alexander said Alameda's rules "may jeopardize the voter's right to ballot secrecy and may raise doubts in the voters' minds as to whether their ballots will be counted.

"Voters who want to cast paper ballots should not be accorded second-class status," she said.

Ginnold suggests e-voting objectors vote early at the county courthouse, which is open today from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and regular hours Monday at 1225 Fallon Street, Room G-1, in the basement.

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