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Nevada decides on new voting machines


Dec. 11, 2003 | Secretary of State Dean Heller said Wednesday that Nevada has become the first state to demand a voter-verifiable receipt printer on new touch-screen voting machines being purchased for the 2004 elections.

Heller picked Oakland, Calif.-based Sequoia Voting Systems over Diebold Election Systems of North Canton, Ohio, as the supplier of the new direct-recording electronic voting machines that will be bought with federal funds.

Heller also decertified all punch-card voting machines in Nevada as of next Sept. 1, just before the state's primary, saying it's his duty "to provide voters with the highest level of confidence that elections in this state are fair, unbiased and secure."

"A paper trail is an intrinsic component of voter confidence," Heller said in explaining why he insisted that Sequoia -- which already has nearly 3,000 machines installed in Clark County -- include the receipt printers on new machines for the upcoming elections. The printers must be added on existing machines by 2006.

Heller mentioned the Florida elections in 2000, saying, "The Florida debacle and the chaos created by the 'hanging and pregnant chad' controversy clearly demonstrate the need to move forward with advanced technology."

While the printers add to the cost of the voting systems, Heller said "money takes a back seat to accuracy, security and voter confidence." The printers let voters see their ballot choices before finalizing their votes.

The decision to go with Sequoia machines was based in part on a review by the state Gaming Control Board's slot machine experts who issued a report saying the Diebold machine that was analyzed "represented a legitimate threat to the integrity of the election process."

Marc McDermott, the GCB's electronic services division chief, said the Sequoia machine "represents a much more secure option."

Heller also said more than two-thirds of the state's voters already use Sequoia voting machines, and Clark County -- encompassing Las Vegas -- has used Sequoia for the past 10 years.

He added that now every polling site in the state will have the same voting system and technology, and that will help as the state shifts to a statewide voter registration system prior to the 2006 elections.

Funding for the Sequoia machines and the printers will come from federal funds allotted to the states under the Help America Vote Act. Nevada will get a minimum state allotment of $5 million under part of the act, followed by another $15 million under other provisions of the new law.