Some election officials and members of Congress who oppose paper-trail devices for electronic voting machines - so people have a record of how they voted - were criticized Wednesday by Nevada's top election official.
Secretary of State Dean Heller sent a letter to members of Congress who don't like the paper-trail devices, and also criticized Carson City Clerk Alan Glover and other local election officials who have questioned the usefulness of the devices.
Heller said some of the local officials "seemingly are more concerned with making their jobs easier than with producing elections that are more accurate, more secure and more valid."
Heller commented following the state Board of Examiners' approval on Tuesday of a $9.3 million contract with Sequoia Voting Systems for more than 4,500 electronic voting machines. The money is coming mainly from federal funds provided under the Help America Vote Act.
Glover has said he and other county election officials are concerned that even if Sequoia gets the machines here in the next month, counties won't be able to use them because Heller has insisted they be able to produce a paper receipt.
In his report to other clerks about a recent conference in Washington, D.C., Glover said there are no standards now and there "will be no standards in the foreseeable future."
Glover said Heller already has ruled punch card machines Carson City and six other counties have used for years are no longer legal voting devices, so counties must move forward. He said his preference is that, if the printing attachments aren't certified in time, the counties be allowed to use the new machines without them.
But Heller wants the printing units before the new electronic machines are used statewide. If the federal government can't certify the printing units quickly, the contract with Sequoia contains language designed to let the state hire experts to do the job - at Sequoia's expense.
"It's too bad that Mr. Glover cannot follow the lead demonstrated by Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax and many of Nevada's rural county clerks" in pushing for the paper receipts, Heller said.
In his letter to congressional critics of the paper records, Heller said he hoped they wouldn't be overly influenced by the fears of some election officials who are "crying wolf and predicting the sky is falling" if the paper receipt printers are required.
"I wonder how many of these election officials would simply trust the ATM machine they use to keep accurate records of their withdrawals and deposits without creating a paper receipt," he wrote. "In fact, millions of paper receipts are printed across the nation each day by ATM machines and through the purchase of lottery tickets."