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Thu, Jan. 23

Touch-screen voting machines received

KINGMAN – The Mohave County Elections department received 90 touch-screen voting machines Wednesday, which will be used in elections later this year.

According to Elections Director Allen Tempert, the “Help America Vote Act” of 2002 designated that handicapped-accessible equipment be available by the federal elections in 2006. This, he said, is Arizona’s response to that requirement. Federal funding through the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office paid for the 90 Diebold’s AccuVote TSX touch-screen machines. According to Tempert, the machines cost approximately $5,000 each, totaling about $445,000 for the county.

The machines received Wednesday are going to be used for the first time during the Sept. 12 primary election. Tempert said that 73 of the machines would be sent out to each of the 73 precincts in the county in time for the primary. Five of the remaining machines would be used for early voting, with the remaining 12 used as backup.

The new machines are geared mainly toward those citizens who are disabled, including those who are blind or those who have physical difficulty with the optical-scan machines. According to Tempert, the machines have a plug-in for headphones for voters who are blind, which offers audio guidance of the ballot. The text can also be displayed in various languages, such as Spanish.

To work the machine, Tempert said, voters are given a voter-access card that is inserted similar to a credit card. This card is encoded at the polling place with the voter’s information and “wiped clean” after use, Tempert said, so it can be reused. The data is then sent back to the Elections department to be counted with the rest of the votes.

Tempert said the machine is designed for just about every disability to enable all voters to vote independently. Voters touch options on the screen to cast their vote similar to using an ATM machine.

Tempert said that no final decision has been made regarding those without disabilities using the machines. The primary mode of voting will continue to be the optical-scan machines, he said.

For more information, contact the Mohave County Elections Department at 753-0733.

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