State cutting it close with new voting system
The state will replace current balloting machines and technology with a new system for the 2008 elections.
WITH a little more than a year before the 2008 primary election, the state will have to move quickly in setting up a new balloting system
that voters can be assured is reliable.
Election officials are just beginning the process, calling for proposals from companies this week with hopes of making a choice before year's end. The tight schedule leaves officials little wiggle room should problems emerge. That likelihood cannot be minimized. When the current system was first used in 1998, enough questions arose to force a statewide recount.
Rex Quidilla, the interim chief election officer, told the Star-Bulletin's Richard Borreca that requests for system proposals will go out this week to replace the optical scanning system, the contract for which expires this year.
The state will consider electronic voting and counting machines, electronic voting with paper printouts and optical scanners.
Whatever method for voting is selected, balloting will be accompanied by paper printouts, as Hawaii law requires, but inspection of the printed material should be simple if recounts become necessary. Moreover, computers that handle electronic voting should be extensively tested to make certain the system and software aren't vulnerable to viruses, hacking or tampering.
In addition, voters should be able to cast ballots without confusing instructions and should be able to confirm their choices before leaving the polls.
The state's leasing a system instead of buying one makes sense, making upgrades for equipment and software more easy to obtain as they become available, and allowing for repairs and fixes should they be needed.
Concerns that Congress may pass legislation requiring electronic voting machines and certain types of paper printouts would not likely affect Hawaii's choice since state law appears to conform to those requirements.
As Quidilla acknowledges, putting in place a new system "is a huge undertaking." The state must be diligent in installing a trustworthy design in time for voters to choose a new president, members of Congress, mayors for Hawaii and Honolulu counties and other important political officials.
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