Alexander A. Ables
Subj: Voting Equipment Upgrades
The Office of the General
Voting machines without this upgrade will not
recognize voted races appearing on a ballot unless the prescribed black
felt-tip ink pen is used. It
is highly probable, and this office firmly believes, that some voters in
certain circumstances are inadvertently marking their ballots with a
regular pen/pencil they have with them other than the one provided.
The result is those races voted are not being counted and the
General Assembly will not allow voting machines to be programmed to reject
a ballot marked in this manner. Therefore,
any ballot marked in this manner is accepted by the machine and the voter
mistakenly believes his vote has been properly cast and recorded.
For example, in the May 2002 Town of
In light of the May 2002 town general election and the extremely narrow margins for two races in the June 2003 Republican primary election, the need for such an upgrade is apparent. As long as these non-upgraded voting machines are in use, the likelihood for a recount in a close race is an attractive option for an unsuccessful candidate. More to the point, this upgrade will improve the integrity and accuracy of elections for this County and remove any question of whether all votes were indeed counted. To proceed without this upgrade for the next General Election or any other future election is a gamble. It is a gamble that margins of victory will be wide and unsuccessful candidates will again listen objectively to the costs and risks outlined by this office in proceeding with a recount. It is a gamble that voters will not inadvertently use the wrong making pen when voting their ballot or that the wrong type of pens will be sent to a precinct. All these instances either individually or taken as a whole serve to create suspicion and apathy of the election process and this office.
This office is also requesting the upgrade of the memory card for each machine. Memory cards are electronic storage devices that are programmed to contain a ballot style used in a precinct. This ballot style is unique to the precinct that it is used. The memory card is also the data storage device that records all the votes cast in each race.
Currently, the vast majority of memory cards used in County voting machines is 32K in memory capacity. New upgraded memory cards are 128K in size and capable of storing more information. The need for new larger capacity memory cards arise from the corruption of a memory card thus not allowing the voting machine to read or record information to that memory card.
To correct this problem either the existing memory card or new memory card has to be programmed in this office using the central absentee precinct (CAP) memory card as a template. The CAP memory card is used because it contains all precinct ballot styles used for that election. A CAP uses a 128K memory card due to the large size of information contained therein. Unfortunately, a 128K memory card cannot program a 32K memory card because a 32K memory card does not have necessary storage capacity of a 128K memory card. Because of this, this office cannot reprogram a corrupted 32K memory card.
This past June illustrated the need for new 128K memory cards as several 32K memory cards were corrupted and replaced with a back-up 128K memory cards. The County currently has three 128K memory cards. This past June the County had an additional 128K memory card on loan from our election equipment supplier. All four 128K memory cards had to be used due to corrupted 32K memory cards. It was only by chance this office had the extra 128K memory card it could press into service at the last minute diverting an otherwise major election crisis.
Diebold Election Systems, the County election
equipment supplier, has been contacted regarding prices and timeframe for
performing the requested upgrades. To
have the upgrades complete and back to the County in time for the November
General Election, the voting machines need to be shipped to
Quantity Upgrade Description Unit Price Total
19 AccuVote-OS Visible Light Reader Upgrade $1,800.00 $34,200.00
23 128K Memory Cards $250.00 $5,750.00
Grand Total: $39,950.00
NOTE: Diebold Election Systems is offering a $65.00 trade-in for each of the County’s 32K memory cards.