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SCV: InkaVote Plus Machine Not Working
The Signal   By Leon Worden, Signal Senior Editor  November 7, 2006

Poll workers in at least one Santa Clarita precinct were handling ballots the old-fashioned way Tuesday — by hand.

The high-tech InkaVote Plus ballot reader, used across Los Angeles County for the first time in Tuesday’s election, wasn’t functioning at the Scenic Hills Clubhouse in Newhall, poll worker Bill Limbaugh said.

The new machines are intended to give voters assurance that they’ve properly marked their ballots. Using a mechanism that might be likened to the feed on an ATM machine, ballots are fed into the InkaVote scanner and checked for over-votes — for instance, if a voter marked a ballot for both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Phil Angelides. The machine also checks for totally blank ballots, which can occur if a voter improperly punches a ballot with the InkaVote pen.

When the InkaVote Plus machine accepts a ballot, it falls into a ballot box below. If a ballot is rejected, the machine ejects a slip of paper stating that there is a problem.

“That’s the part that isn’t working,” said Limbaugh. The mechanism that ejects a slip of paper for a bad ballot had malfunctioned.

Poll workers in Scenic Hills were able to marked ballots manually into the box below the machine.

The ballots will be handled like any other ballot in Los Angeles County — transported to the Registrar-Recorder’s office in Norwalk for tabulation. They just won’t have been checked for mistakes first.

"We take the security of our voting system very seriously," Registrar-Recorder Conny McCormack said in a statement Monday. "The voting system in use in Los Angeles County has been thoroughly tested and approved by national and state authorities. Voters can be confident their votes are protected and counted accurately."

McCormack said she was pleased with Tuesday's roll-out of the new scanning equipment. Out of 5,028 polling places in the county, "only a couple of hundred" had machines that weren't working, she said.

McCormack said she and District Attorney Steve Cooley and Sheriff Lee Baca have teamed up to ensure the integrity of votes cast in the county.

"The District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit will immediately respond to any allegations of tampering with voting equipment," said Cooley.

Officials from the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office also are on the lookout in Southern California for voting irregularities and can be contacted through their field offices.

In addition to the optical scanner, the InkaVote Plus system includes a new audio voting booth for visually impaired voters and for speakers of several non-English languages.

That part of the system was working in Scenic Hills, although it hadn’t been used by noon on Tuesday, Limbaugh said, because no non-English speaker had come to the polling place to vote.

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