McKeithen plans to standardize Louisiana's voting machines

From: Rick Gideon <rick_at_openvoting_dot_org>
Date: Wed Nov 12 2003 - 17:09:47 CST

This may be a good place to get a state turned onto OVC, sounds like
they've been left with a bad taste in their mouth from ES&S and perhaps
others.

http://www.nola.com/newsflash/louisiana/index.ssf?/base/news-5/106789914026601.xml

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)  Gearing up to take over the elections department,
Secretary of State Fox McKeithen said he intends to standardize
Louisiana's voting machines so that all parishes cast ballots with the
same computerized equipment. McKeithen indicated he likely will scrap the
state's newest portable touch-screen voting machines, which are used in
two parishes and in absentee voting, after malfunctions and problems
created costly headaches.
"I told the people who make them, 'We're going to use them to get through
this election cycle. We make no promises to you after that,'" McKeithen
told the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday, calling the touch-screen
voting machines that malfunctioned last year during fall elections
"horrible."
McKeithen wouldn't rule out the use of other types of touch-screen voting
machines as he works to standardize machines in all 64 parishes, instead
saying he will look at all options after he takes over the elections
department in January.
The functions of the separate elections department  voter registration and
the storing of voting machines  will be merged into the secretary of
state's office, a move to save money and stop duplication of tasks. The
elections commissioner's job is becoming an appointed post, rather than an
elected one.
The Nebraska company Elections Systems and Software gave Louisiana new,
replacement machines after the first set proved to be defective and
Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell complained that repairs were
insufficient.
The machines are used in Ascension and Tangipahoa parishes and in more
than 50 parishes for absentee voting.
At least two-thirds of the touch-screen machines malfunctioned,
overheating and shutting down, according to elections officials. The
broken machines did not lose count of votes, so election officials were
able to extract totals.
The elections department paid $3 million for the 900 voting machines that
later were replaced.
McKeithen said the problems with the machines extend beyond possible
overheating. He said even the replacement machines are not easily
programmable to work with the secretary of state's office to compile
statewide voting totals.
Louisiana has more than 10,000 voting machines statewide. Moving to a
standardized system will cost millions of dollars, but McKeithen said
state dollars won't be used. Louisiana expects to receive at least $35
million from a federal voting act that will pay for any new machines, he
said.
Currently, Louisiana has two parishes with the touch-screen machines, 12
parishes with computerized push-button machines and 50 parishes with old,
lever machines, according to First Assistant Secretary of State Al Ater.
The federal government requires states get rid of the lever machines by
2006.
McKeithen said he didn't expect any problems with the touch-screen
machines in the Nov. 15 runoff.
"It's going to be accurate. It's just not going to be real fast or easily
done," he said.
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Received on Sun Nov 30 23:17:02 2003

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