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Election process issues addressed in Carbon County

Published December 17. 2012 05:05PM

Carbon County officials are addressing some issues with the current election process.

During the monthly meeting of the county election board last Thursday, Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, the chairman of the election board, discussed a letter from area resident Roy Christman concerning some issues he feels need to be addressed for future elections.

Nothstein said that he spoke with Lisa Dart, elections director, about the letter.

Issues that were discussed included:

• Better training for election workers, which Nothstein said is already being addressed for the upcoming primary election.

• More phone lines at the election office; which Nothstein explained is because people call in on election day asking where they are registered. But, Dart noted, the problem is that the county only has two computers with the state-issued program needed to provide the registration answers and the state will not authorize getting a third computer without having a third elections employee in the office.

• Posting elections rules at all locations. Nothstein said Christman stated rules were posted at one location and would like to see them posted at all locations.

• Stricter enforcement of the rules on campaigning within 10 feet of the entrance of polling places. Nothstein said this has been an ongoing issue for years and feels candidates need to also educate people campaigning for them at polling places about where they can and can't be on election days.

• Replacing the touch-screen systems currently in the county with optical scanners and machines.

Nothstein said that this is the most expensive issue the county is facing because if all machines were replaced, it would cost about $350,000. No money is available from the state or federal government to help offset that expense.

Nothstein added that there has been one issue to date with two of the machines the county owns and officials are looking into options to alleviate the problem.

During the November election, two machines' calibrations were off, causing the machines to select the republican party when the democratic party box was selected. Both machines were pulled once voters told officials about the problem.

Dart said the company that made the machines confirmed that it was a calibration issue; but was not the county's fault because all testing prior to the election was done properly.

There are a few options that the county can now look into to resolve the issue with the machines, Nothstein added.

Dart said options include using a lease program to lease different types of electronic voting machines that have been approved; replacing the touch screens on the machines at around $125 a screen; or purchasing new machines.

Nothstein said the county is looking into all options; but cost is a big factor at the moment.

Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard added that Dart informed the county that the current voting machines will be obsolete in a few years so the state won't fund replacing the screens.

"We're hoping for the best right now until we make a decision," he said.

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