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State to replace old voting machines
 By ERIC REED    New Britain Herald

NEW BRITAIN The state of Connecticut is replacing its voting machines, and the League of Women Voters believes that everyone should understand exactly how this may affect them.

According to Ann Speyer, a member of the League, Connecticut is preparing to phase out the mechanical voting machines currently found in most voting precincts in the state, replacing them with electronic voting machines which will keep track of voting through computer tabulation. The Help America Vote Act, otherwise known as HAVA, requires a change of this nature in order to meet the law?s standards.

These new machines, however, could raise a number of concerns according to Speyer.

"The League is interested in good voting procedures," she said. "There?s been a lot of discussion of how secure the machines are, how accurate.

"There?s a question of how well they can be recounted."

Electronic voting machines come in three two primary varieties according to Speyer and True Vote Connecticut, a statewide organization dedicated to reliable voting.

"Some of them are touch-screen," Speyer said, "such as your ATMS..Some of them are optical machines, where you fill in bubbles with a pencil such as you once did on the SAT and it?s fed into the machine."

According to True Vote Connecticut?s website, the touch screen variety of electronic machines also comes in two distinct forms: one which simply keeps track of the votes on a computer, and which simultaneously tracks the votes on a computer as well as paper ballots. The optical machines through their nature keep simultaneous computer and paper records.

The group asserts that the change from mechanical voting to electronic voting is in response to two stipulations of HAVA, the first being that each precinct must allow those with disabilities access to a voting machine, and the second requiring a permanent paper record from each machine. The group estimates that this compliance could cost the state as much as 12 to 18 million dollars.

The League of Women Voters has its concerns regarding just how well these machines will serve Connecticut?s voters, and is holding a discussion tonight at 7:15 p.m. to address the issue.

"The League has a position which supports voting systems and procedures which are secure, accurate, recountable and accessible," Speyer said. "They want to make sure that the machines which are chosen meet all of these criteria."

The discussion will feature a panel of speakers from various sectors of industry and politics. This will include Sen. Don DeFronzo, Chairman of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, Deputy Secretary of State Maria Greenslade, Luther Weeks, a computer specialist of 25 years, and several others.

The goal of the discussion is to provide information, Speyer said, so that people will know as much as possible about this highly pertinent issue.

The general public is invited to attend at the First Church on Corbin Ave.

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