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Computer aided voting

On Nov. 5 voters registered in Alameda County will find a new and improved computer voting machines.

According to the East Bay Business Times the new system promises to be accessible and efficient. The new changes have left many in the Mills community apprehensive toward the change for various reasons.

The new flat screen monitors are touch-screen, which makes them easier to use for old and disabled people.

“I think it is a really good idea with all the different features,” said sophomore Karen Pfeffe. “It’s more accessible to people with disabilities and language barriers.”

Diebold Election Systems, the replacement, was chosen because it met the county’s requirements, including the ability to magnify images and display ballots in Chinese said county voter registrar Brad Clark.

Being user friendly was one concern about the new voting system.

“I think that it is good but might be limiting to some people who aren’t familiar with computers,” said sophomore Janice Pettis.

The system is set up to be very simple and the voter can backtrack if a mistake was made.

“I think the punch-card doesn’t give you the opportunity to change if you made a mistake,” said Lael Sigal, assistant director of resident and commuting life. “You can go back and fix it with this new system.”

Voters are going to use a thick credit card sized piece of plastic that will be inserted at the voting station and the ballot appears on the screen. The vote is made by a touch of the fingertip on a box next to the name or measure. The system offers a summary of the choices made at the end of the ballot so the voter can change any mistakes.

The vote is recorded on a chip inside the computer and the card, then is spit out to be reused at the same polling place. The vote totals are then downloaded on portable memory cards for tabulation.

“If it works it will be fantastic,” said junior Jane Sochran.

“It will eliminate the possibility of someone voting twice.”

After the presidential vote counting problems in Florida, California decertified the Votomatic punch-card system last year. Votomatic had been in use for 28 years and it was hard to get spare parts for.

On one hand the new technology will be more efficient ,but there is the concern that there will also be difficulties.

“It might solve one problem but create new different problems,” said sophomore Alix Jerinic.

“I am skeptical of technology,” said sophomore Beth Culig., “systems crashing, the possibility of hacking and no paper evidence.”

The actual data is stored in more than one place in the machine if a card is lost.