Paper-Trail Election Machines Get Nevada Test

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Nevada's upcoming primary election will mark the first use by a state of touch-screen voting machines that print paper receipts - and officials say the state's getting a lot of national attention as a result.

"Nevada has received national recognition and interest as a result of the decision to include a paper trail with our touch-screen systems," Secretary of State Dean Heller said Thursday.

Heller added that many election officials from other states want to see how the system works, so he's invited them to watch early voting Aug. 28, in advance of the Sept. 7 primary. He also invited members of the federal Election Assistance Commission.

Heller arranged with Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax to let the visiting officials tour the county's election center on Aug. 28 and see the Sequoia Voting Systems machines and printers in action during early voting.

In December, Heller decertified all punch-card voting machines and said touch-screen machines would be purchased from Sequoia. He also said all the machines had to include a voter-verifiable paper audit trail, or V-PAT, printer.

All Nevadans will be able to vote in the Sept. 7 primary and the Nov. 2 general election on the touch-screen machines that print paper receipts on a roll of paper attached to the left of the touch-screen terminal.

A voter views the receipt through a glass cover before touching the terminal to "cast" the ballot. Voters don't get the receipt - it scrolls back into a closed container.

Election officials will keep the receipts for use if an election is contested. Heller said it would have to be decided on a case-by-case basis whether the paper receipts or the electronic data determine the outcome of the election.

After the election, 3 percent to 5 percent of the receipts will be checked by election officials to ensure the results match the electronic results, he said.

As concern mounted over potential security problems with electronic voting machines, computer security experts and some lawmakers and voters called for the machines to produce paper receipts so there is a tangible record of voter intent.

Some election administrators oppose paper receipts, arguing that paper ballots have historically been used in election fraud and that reintroducing paper potentially creates more Election Day problems.

Heller said he got opposition from registrars in some of Nevada's 17 counties who didn't want to change their existing technology or were worried about something going wrong with the new machines.


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