Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Secretary of State: Machines Not Ready, Start With Paper Ballots

Here is a statement from the Sec. of State's office.

"Over the past several days, there have been many questions about the status of our statewide voting system implementation here in Arkansas and our readiness to conduct the May primary election. After reviewing the information available to me and consulting with our counties, my staff and our voting system vendor, I would like to offer the following announcements.

Early voting for the primary election begins Monday, May 8. All counties in Arkansas will be prepared to conduct early voting and everyone in the state will have an opportunity to vote early if they so choose.

Now, as many of you know, we had made plans in Arkansas to conduct early voting with electronic voting machines in each county as part of our larger plan to comply with the Help America Vote Act. Most counties were prepared to conduct early voting on one or two electronic voting machines. It appears as of today that we will see a limited use of electronic voting machines for early voting and that instead most Arkansans will be voting early using paper ballots, just as they have been accustomed to doing in the past.



Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I made the decision today to limit the use of electronic voting for the early voting period because it became clear that our voting system vendor, Election Systems and Software, could not complete programming and testing of the electronic ballots in sufficient time for use next Monday to ensure accurate elections. I have recommended to our counties to utilize electronic voting ONLY if there is sufficient time to test the ballots before use in an election. It appears today that we will have at least eight counties that WILL have electronic ballots in time to sufficiently test them for use next Monday, and those counties will proceed as planned for early voting.

The remaining counties have been instructed to plan for the use of paper ballots during early voting and we will support them in that process.

This is a deviation from the plan we had originally envisioned and communicated with our counties, and for that, I apologize to our county clerks and election commissioners. I know many of them were excited about using this new technology for the first time, but we all agree that we would rather proceed cautiously than rush a deployment for which we are not prepared.

Come May 23, counties in Arkansas WILL be using electronic voting according to plan. All polling sites in Arkansas will have at least one electronic voting machine available to voters with disabilities, and many counties will be using a full system of electronic voting at the polling site.

So, the plans that we have discussed with our counties for the May 23 primary remain firmly in place, and I want to be very clear about that. Personnel from Election Systems and Software has worked diligently to have electronic ballots programmed, delivered and tested for 72 counties that are part of this implementation. Unfortunately, their resources were insufficient to fully meet those deadlines in time for early voting. While I am disappointed that ES&S cannot complete programming and testing of electronic ballots for early voting in the majority of our counties, Arkansans will be able to early vote.

ES&S has promised an influx of their resources in the next few days as elections conclude in other states around the country to help our counties prepare for the primary. We remain optimistic that the company will bring those resources to bear. We have negotiated and worked in good faith with ES&S and we understand that they are supporting many jurisdictions across this country as states rush to comply with the Help America Vote Act.

But Arkansas is the only state that matters to me, and I will continue to give instructions and support to our counties to conduct our elections here. We are in daily constant contact with the counties and ES&S and we will continue to monitor delivery schedules and other issues as ES&S works to fulfill their contract with us. I have confidence in the use of the electronic equipment for the May 23rd primary.

The most important message that I can offer voters is that, as we had always planned, most of you will still be voting on paper for our primary election and that your vote will be counted. Where electronic voting IS deployed, it will be done ONLY after the election is properly programmed and properly tested for accuracy.

Because they have a contested federal election, the eight counties in Arkansas's 2nd Congressional District can expect to use electronic voting machines beginning May 8. We are working with the vendor to ensure adequate delivery and testing for those ballots. We anticipate that ALL counties who switched from punch cards and lever machines, regardless of congressional district, will also have electronic units available for early voting, and we will work with the counties individually if that does not materialize.

Other counties around the state are preparing to order paper ballots, and will use them throughout the early voting period, if necessary. We will continue to prepare for our elections this month and we encourage everyone to exercise your available right to vote. Arkansas is indeed making a gradual move toward electronic voting, we just may not be able to get there as fast as we had hoped. Our first priority is fair, accurate elections, regardless of the voting method and we WILL meet that goal."

8:06 PM, May 02, 2006  
Anonymous 21st majority said...

This is a terriblly imbarrising for Sec. of State Daniels. This is yet another reason to elect Jim Lagrone. He is the right man for the state. We should get ride of Daniels before he causes more problems.

6:34 PM, May 03, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Went to Benton County for early voting. No problems using the new machines. Of course Benton County is a GOP stronghold and they have their act together.

8:40 PM, May 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work » »

10:05 PM, February 28, 2007  

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