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Voting via touch screen approved


Monterey Herald     22 July 2005

Wholesale changes are in store for the Monterey County elections office.

The Board of Supervisors on Thursday authorized the Registrar of Voters to convert its method of election from traditional paper ballots to touch-screen voting devices, a change that will be phased in beginning with the November election.

Supervisors also agreed to move the Registrar's office from its leased space on South Main Street in Salinas to the site of the old Public Works headquarters on East Alisal Street.

Tony Anchundo, registrar of voters, said the move to touch-screen voting will help the county meet new federal requirements.

However, a representative for a national voters advocacy group said Thursday that the touch-screen devices the county will be buying do not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act provisions in the federal law because they don't include foot pedals, joy sticks and other equipment that allow severely disabled voters to cast ballots.

"The problem is that the system was designed for standards set in 1990, but the Help America Vote Act set new policies that are very specific," said John Gideon, information manager for Voters Unite. "The Sequoia models don't meet those policies."

Gideon said the policies require at least one fully loaded touch-screen device designed for disabled voters in each polling place.

Anchundo could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, supervisors agreed to move forward with Anchundo's recommendation to move his office from its 11,000-square-foot space in a South Main Street shopping center to buildings on East Alisal being vacated by the Public Works Department.

The county leases the existing office for $220,000 annually. Anchundo said the costs are too high and the offices are too small.

The Public Works' buildings combined offer a total of 20,000 square feet. The move is expected to take place after the November elections.

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