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Goodbye, punch cards.

Byline: The Register-Guard

The days of punch-card ballots are numbered in Lane County. That announcement by county Elections Director Annette Newingham is the best news in years about the conduct of elections. The punch cards will soon be replaced by ballots that can be read by optical scanning devices.

If the county commissioners approve a $540,000 bid from Sequoia Voting Systems today, Newingham says the new system could be in place by February or March. Of the $540,000 cost, $469,760 would come from the federal government and the rest from the county.

A Feb. 3 election will be held if opponents of the Legislature's $800 million state tax hike can obtain enough petition signatures for a referral. It would be dandy if the county could have its optical scanning system in place by then. The February election would provide a small-scale test of the system, so that any problems could be ironed out in time for the larger and more complicated May primary election ballot.

Only three Oregon counties - Lane, Clackamas and Washington - still use the punch card ballots that caused such an uproar in the 2000 Florida presidential election. A subsequent study by Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury's office found that counties using punch-card ballots had far higher rates of miscast or spoiled ballots than those that used other voting systems.

If the scanners offered by Sequoia Voting Systems meet the county's needs, the commissioners should accept the bid. Lane County can then look forward to a chad-free voting system, one that offers greater accuracy than can be obtained with punch cards. No voting system is perfect, but Lane County voters have put up with a second-rate system long enough.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Lane County to get optical scanners; Editorials
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Oct 29, 2003
Words:285
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