The Calhoun Commission changed its mind yesterday regarding which voting system the county will use.

After Secretary of State Betty Ireland lobbied for the touch-screen system and extended a new deadline for counties to change their mind, Calhoun re-considered.

The state, last month, was split about half-and-half, using the touch screen system and the optical scanning system. Braxton and Wyoming, stuck with all paper ballots.

Commissioners McCallister and Sampson voted for the computerized system, Weaver voted nay.

The commission had voted last month to stick with the current Optical Scanning System which still uses paper ballots.

The state was also requiring a touch-screen computer for each precinct for handicapped voters with visual and hearing problems, in addition to the paper ballot.

County Clerk Richard Kirby told the commission that using two systems would mean a considerable amount of work, saying that many of the counties that selected the Optical Scan system are changing their mind.

Problems surfaced in many states that have used touch-screen voting with no paper trail, but West Virginia is requiring a paper trail, a running "paper" tape in the voting machine.

Kirby said senior citizens who have used the touch-screen system in West Virginia have said they like it.

Opponents of the touch screen system have expressed concern that the computerized system can be manipulated, but such fears are lowered with the use of a paper tape.

The new equipment is being paid by a federal grant, but replacement costs in a few years could be over $100,000 for Calhoun.

Read "Protecting Your Ballot" 10/10/05

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