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Voting machines debut to praise

Knute Knudsen casts a vote in the primary election on Tuesday at City Hall using a touch-screen voting machine made by Diebold Election Systems. The machines made their widespread Utah debut on Tuesday and some people say that they were simple to use. Grayson West/Park Record
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After months of lobbying against the touch-screen voting machines that made their widespread debut in Utah during Tuesday’s primary election, Kathy Dopp went to the polls at McPolin Elementary School to cast her ballot.

But Dopp, who is running as a member of the Desert Green Party to become the Summit County clerk, refused to use the machines, even as others who voted early on Tuesday praised them for what they said was their simplicity.

Dopp instead requested what is known as an optical-scan ballot, frequently called a bubble ballot, similar to those that voters are accustomed to. An election worker gave her the ballot and she voted, saying she has more confidence in the bubble ballot than the touch-screen machines.

"It eliminates one of the uncertainties. I know my ballot was recorded correctly," Dopp said afterward.

The debut of the touch-screen machines frequently overshadowed the candidates who were on the primary ballot. Dopp especially has been critical of the machines, saying for months that someone can easily tamper with the Diebold systems, which the Statehouse mandated be used in Utah elections starting in 2006.

Summit County Clerk Sue Follett said in the afternoon that voters were not complaining and that poll workers were performing well. Senior citizens, Follett said, were especially happy.

"You get done and their eyes light up and they get a smile," Follett said.

The ballot on Tuesday was light, with voters deciding party candidates for two Summit County contests and two Statehouse races and casting ballots for School Board members in North Summit. Turnout in the Park City polling stations in the morning appeared low.

Dopp described the Diebold machines as a, "faith-based voting system," meaning that people must trust poll workers and the officials counting the results. That, she said, contrasts with a verifiable system, which she prefers.

"I have no idea if the vote counts are going to be correct if we’re not going to do an audit," Dopp said.

After he voted at City Hall, Hans Fuegi, who lives in Deer Valley, said using the touch-screen machines was "simple." He liked that the machines provide chances to correct votes if a mistake is made.

"I think it’s fairly easy. It’s new. For all of us who have voted for 20 years, you have to read through the instructions," Fuegi said.

He is confident that the votes will be counted accurately and likes that the machines record a paper trail for elections workers.

Gerd Holmsen-Aguilar, who lives in Park Meadows and voted at McPolin, agreed with others who were happy with the machines.

"Once you put the card in, all you need to do is read instructions," Holmsen-Aguilar said, adding, "I really don’t see any mistakes. Of course there can be mistakes, but I don’t know where they will be."

At McPolin, Brian Anderson, who lives in Park Meadows, was pleased with the machines. He said poll workers provided good instructions and said voting on the touch-screen machines was simple.

"I’m 100 percent confident. Between the electronic and the paper, it’s better than dangling chads," Anderson said.

He said voting systems used previously could be tampered with, meaning that, "if someone wanted to be crooked, they’ll be crooked," regardless of the system.

Anderson compared the Diebold machines to using the Internet.

"This is like bidding on eBay," he said.


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