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Election Systems & Software wins scanner contract

By DIANE ERWIN News-Sun Staff Writer

As a member of the Clark County Board of Elections, Dan Harkins was partially responsible Monday for choosing which optical scan machine voters will use in November.

But he also knew he would not be running them.

?At the end of the day, we as board members are not going to be operating the equipment,? said Harkins, a Republican.

That?s why he and the three other board members unanimously chose to use an optical scan machine from Election Systems and Software after a recommendation from the board?s director and deputy director.

The bottom line was the support ES&S offered compared to its competitor, Diebold Elections Systems,

See SCANNER on Page 8A

Director Linda Rosicka said. The company Triad will provide elections support for the county, just as it has in the past.

?They provide a comfort level to us on election night,? Rosicka said.

ES&S and Triad have drafted but not yet signed the contract promising Triad?s support.

Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has ordered all counties to choose by Wednesday either ES&S or Diebold to provide optical scan machines for the November election, regardless of their current method of voting. Clark County voters have used punch cards for 27 years.

Beginning in November, voters will fill in ovals by pen to make their ions, much like on a standardized test. The ballot is then ed into an optical scan machine that will tabulate the votes.

Democratic board member David Farrell said a few differences between the machines swayed him toward ES&S, including the machines? reactions to overvotes and undervotes. With Diebold, the ballot is returned to the voter, and a poll worker must help submit the ballot if the voter intentionally filled in too many ovals or left some races blank. With ES&S, the voter needs no assistance from a poll worker.

The board, made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, also voted to ask the county commission to find 20,000 square feet of office and storage space for the new machines. Federal money will pay for 100 optical machines? one per precinct? and machines at each voting location for handicapped voters. The board will also ask the commission to buy 10 extra optical scanners and five extra machines for the disabled.

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