Local electorate readies for Super Tuesday
February 4, 2008
One of the decisions local voters will face today as they visit the poles for the presidential primary election apart from picking a presidential party candidate or voting yes or no will be whether to vote by paper ballot or electronic voting machine.If recent elections are any indicator, most will choose paper.In the 2006 gubernatorial election only 19 votes were entered via the electronic machines, said Placer Countys Jim McCauley, Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters.That means this year a majority of the countys 182,815 registered voters will probably vote via paper ballot read by optical scanner.The same trend will most likely be seen in Nevada, Placer and El Dorado Counties, according to election officials in all three regions.[Voters] are going to find our primary voting is a paper-based ballot system period, read by optical scanner, said El Dorado Countys William Schultz, Recorder-Clerk and Registrar.The touch screen machines will be present because they are mandated by the 2002 federal Help America Vote Act, McCauley said. A mandate put in place to help establish funds for states to provide more electronic voting machines. But, he added, only one per polling place is required. McCauley indicated that is because of Secretary of State Debra Bowens review over the summer of 2007, which decertified and then recertified many of the machines.The machines in the tri-county area all use touch screens, according to election officials, and are present primarily for disabled voters. The other non-traditional voting trend will be the vote-by-mail vote, known before this year as absentee voters. The number of voters choosing a mail-in ballot is approximately 50 percent across the board.El Dorado Countys William Schultz, Recorder-Clerk and Registrar, chalked that decision up to user preference, and the fact that much of the county is rural.Placer County election officials have received almost 60 percent of the mail-in vote already, McCauley said.The Super Tuesday election which California joined by moving their primary election forward adds another election to the state voting calendar. The additional voting day will cost the counties thousands of dollars and does not erase the June 3 statewide direct primary or the November 4 general election.This election will cost the county $750,000, McCauley said. He estimated statewide costs reach $70 million.Whether the counties will be reimbursed by the state is yet to be seen, said Nevada Countys assistant clerk recorder Susan German.It is not in the [state] budget for counties to be reimbursed. We [Nevada County] never got reimbursed for the last statewide election, she said.