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Kamas lawmaker blasts voting machines

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

With the message from critics of touch-screen voting machines gaining momentum throughout the country, Park City’s Statehouse representative says he doesn’t trust Summit County’s election equipment to operate properly.

Kamas Republican David Ure, who represents most of Summit County in Utah’s House of Representatives, raised his hand during a debate in Snyderville Wednesday when Park City resident Kathy Dopp asked who among the crowd distrusted the controversial Diebold Election Systems machines.

"I have a lot of concerns with the new voting equipment," said Dopp.

As a member of the Desert Green Party, Dopp is vying against former Summit County Clerk Kent Jones to replace lame-duck clerk Sue Follett, who is a Democrat who was ousted from the campaign in a nominating convention last spring.

"I have a hard time believing that there is not a way for someone with an electronic mind to totally screw up these machines," Ure said in an interview Thursday. "I am suspicious of these electronic procedures of voting and tallying."

Stopping short of endorsing Dopp’s candidacy, Ure says "This is probably the only issue that Kathy Dopp and I agree on."

"My suspicions go back for almost two years when we first had the problems down in Florida and we started going to these electronic voting machines," Ure said.

Attempting to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act, the county purchased touch-screen machines partly to improve access to the polls for the disabled.

Votes cast on the machines are recorded electronically and on paper, however, "That paper trail is very hard to follow," insisted Ure.

As the county’s chief election official, Follett allowed Summit County commissioners to saddle voters with faulty election equipment that can’t be trusted when even wide margins of votes separate candidates, Dopp claimed.

"I’m running to get a job done because I don’t see it being done right now," Dopp told a group of roughly 50 people who gathered in Snyderville Wednesday to here the candidates speak.

Dopp’s opponent, however, disagrees.

Diebold machines, Jones said, will be "proven right."

Jones, a former Republican from Henefer, served as clerk for nearly a decade before Follett defeated him in 2002.

"Whether I’m the county clerk or whether she is the next county clerk we’re going to be using the electronic voting equipment," Jones said. "All those decisions have passed."

State elections officials cooperated with county clerks to ensure the best possible equipment was selected, he said.

"I do have a comfort level with the number of times that I’ve been around them," said Jones about the machines. "But there are no guarantees that you will not have problems."


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