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May 27, 2005


You should never never recommend using scanners at a central location. You need to have one per precinct, and the voter needs to place his/her own ballot in the scanner. If it is overvoted the scanner will reject it, and it can be corrected by the voter.

Hennepin County Minnesota has been using optical scanners in precincts since 1990, and has the lowest error rate for any major metro area in the country, and has had since the 1992 election.

If you have a crowded precinct with long lines, all you have to do with in-precinct scanning is to add additional plastic voting booths, which are made of recycled pop bottles (yep) and cost less than 20 dollars apice. They fold up and are easily moved without any security to polling places.

The cost of a good scanner is a little less than a thousand dollars, and the necessary programming is quite checkable.

Apparently I wasn't clear, but what I meant was that you didn't need a scanner for each voting booth, just one per precinct or voting site. For instance, I voted at a very crowded site last November, and they had a couple make-shift "booths" for us to complete our ballots that they did up at the last second, but there was no delay in running the ballot through the single scanner they had at the site.

I think the ratio was 7 or 8 booths, with just the one scanner. It's the difference, in that city, between having to buy about 40 machines (scanners) or 300-350 machines (touchscreens).

I'm hoping against hope that the expense of touch-screen voting systems will kill them off before they kill our democracy.

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