(08/29/2008)
By Bob Weaver

With some states doing away with their touch-screen voting machines, citing problems with accuracy, West Virginia is sticking with the machines, according to Secretary of State Betty Ireland.

Thirty-four counties have used the touch-screen machines in primary and general elections since 2006.

Calhoun Clerk Richard Kirby said the paper trail required of the touch-screens and the exhaustive testing have kept him satisfied that vote counts are accurate.

"We have had less than a half-dozen complaints from users," Kirby said. "Most people like to vote on the machines."

Kirby did admit he and his staff did "a lot of work programing and testing" Calhoun's machines. "I could see in larger, urban areas, the work could get pretty overwhelming," he said.

"I think the tally has been right on the money in Calhoun elections," he continued.

Still, just in case some kind of problem flares, Kirby has a back-up plan. He has printed paper ballots for last May's primary, and is doing so for the General Election.

"The cost of printing the ballots isn't that great, and it makes things more secure," he said.

Daily Mail Reporter Justin Anderson wrote "Kanawha County never went touch-screen. And with the news that other states - like Ohio, Florida and California - are going back to old voting systems, County Commission President Kent Carper renewed his call for (Secretary of State) Ireland's office to conduct a thorough audit of how the machines have been working."

"No such audit was performed, nor do we feel one is or was necessary," said Sarah Bailey, Ireland's spokeswoman.

"The machines have worked extremely well for West Virginia elections. With our stringent testing measures required by law, along with our security ... policy, West Virginia voters will receive a fair and clean election," she said.

"If our office and the county clerks did not feel that the machines were reliable, we absolutely would not use them ..." Bailey said.

Jamie Six, clerk of Wood County, said he's a fan of the touch-screen voting machines.

Six told the Charleston Daily Mail the expediency in counting votes on election night is one of the main benefits of touch-screen voting.

Whereas with other types of ballots, all the counting is done at the county clerk's office, votes can be tabulated at the precincts with touch-screen

Some of the problems have been connected to voting machine vendors across the nation faced with the daunting task of servicing all 50 states at one time.

ES&S, the provider of the machines, previously failed to meet their service contract obligations in West Virginia.


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