Punch cards out

Out with the old - punch cards, that is - and in with the new, as in voting equipment, at all 73 Mohave County voting precincts.

As mandated by the Help America Vote Act, passed in 2002,the state plans to supply all Mohave County precincts with new voting systems before next February.

"We will no longer by using the old punch cards," said Mohave County Elections Director Allen Tempert.

"We will be able to use the new voting systems for the 2004 Presidential Preference Election February 3."

Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer announced the official contract award for updating county voting systems - as of Sept.

1, 2003 - to Diebold Election Systems, which will replace the outdated punch card voting equipment with a new system that includes optical scan tabulating at each polling location.

Diebold Election Systems was selected as part of a competitive bidding process to provide new "state-of-the-art" voting devices for the nine counties in Arizona that still use outdated punch card voting equipment, according to information from Brewer's office.

Each voter will make a selection with a paper ballet, filling in a space next to the chosen selection with a pencil.

Information from the scanned ballet will be collected into a data pack, and results can be modemed to the election office, Tempert said.

Adopted earlier this year the state implemented, and federally financed, plan calls for up-to-date equipment at each polling location.

Federal funding for touch screen voting, also included in the plan, is not expected until at least 2005.

The county incurs no cost in replacement of the voting equipment.

"A lot of out time will be spent on logistics, such as storing maintaining and distributing the equipment, he said.

"But getting the word out to the public about the new system is our most important concern."