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Fewer places to vote (the Real cost of voting machines)

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Mainstream News Reports: (MA) Fewer places to vote (the real cost of voting machines)

Posted by Bev Harris on Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - 04:55 am:

Some perspective on this story from BBV: The Help America Vote Act
(HAVA) which forced local elections officials to convert to electronic
voting machines has had devastating consequences. HAVA was pushed into
place by vendors and civil rights groups. For more information on how
HAVA came to be: The Road to Boondoggle Was Paved with Good
Intentions The truth about HAVA is that it has caused millions of
voters to lose their right to have to travel farther to polling
places, millions more to lose access to polling place voting
altogether, and now more than 100 million voters have their votes
counted in secret. BBV has marked in RED the portions of this news
article -- one of many -- that illustrates the hidden costs of voting

The Daily Record - April 23, 2007, by Bobby Warren

Fewer precincts open in May
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WOOSTER -- Wayne County voters should watch for postcards in the mail
and review them carefully because many precincts will be combined for
the May 8 primary.

With the number of issues on the ballot and the costs of opening a
precinct increasing, Wayne County Board of Elections Director Patty
Johns said it made sense to combine precincts and not open every
polling location. Wayne County has 97 precincts, and 24 of them are in
Wooster. Because Wooster will not have a primary that left 73
precincts with issues or candidates on the ballot.

At one point, the board considered opening 62 precincts, but it has
settled on having 32 open come May 8. Because so many precincts have
been assigned new locations, Johns' office is sending out the

Johns said she is not sure how busy the precincts will be, "but we
can't have people sitting there all day long." In the past, some
precincts had only 22 people show up to vote, she said.

Dorothy Ginther, chairwoman of the Board of Elections, said the move
will allow the county to service more voters with fewer precinct

"It cuts the expense of the election and saves the taxpayers' money,"
said Don Lance, a member of the Board of Elections.

When the U.S. Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, it required
counties to replace punch-card voting systems, like the ones used
here. With the switch came added costs, Johns said. She used to figure
it cost $450-$500 to open a precinct. Now the total is creeping closer
to $1,000.

Contributing to the increased cost of the primary election is a
$10,500 contract with Diebold, the maker of the electronic voting
machines the county uses. The money will cover logic and accuracy
testing of each machine, memory card and encoder. It also includes one
day of computer programming, three days of on-site support (the day
before, day of and day after the election) to handle anything that
might come up, Johns said.

"When they passed the Help America Vote Act, we were out of luck," she
said. If the county did not use the federal dollars to purchase the
new equipment, it would have had to cover the $1.2 million price tag
through local taxes. "We didn't have a choice here, unfortunately."

Johns said she hopes the voters like the new machines, but they take
more work and money.

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Bev Harris is executive director of Black Box Voting, Inc. an advocacy group committed to restoring citizen oversight to elections.
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