The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 September 2006

Paper trails to you

Last year, Michael Clingman, secretary of the state's Election Board, expressed some interest in acquiring some touch-screen voting machines, apparently thumbing his nose at the ancient wisdom, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." At the time, I suggested that this was at least partially motivated by the desire to get the Feds to pay for the odious devices.

Steven Roemerman has now spoken with Clingman about the future of voting contraptions in Oklahoma, and I am somewhat reassured:

With regard to the actual voting process in Oklahoma, it ainít broke. I spoke with Michael Clingman, Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary, and he agrees with me. The paper based, optically scanning system, uniformly applied across Oklahoma, is one of the best in the country. Clingman told me, however, that our current system was purchased in 1990 and had an intended 10 year lifecycle. We are now 6 years past the shelf life of our current system and there are starting to be problems. It is becoming more and more difficult to find parts for maintenance. Clingman suggested that we might need to replace these machines as early as 2008. However, he assured me that Oklahoma has no desire to part with the basic system under which we currently operate. The paper trail that an actual paper ballot affords us is something that any new system will have to incorporate.

And with good reason, too, given the unreliability demonstrated by the most popular electronic voting machine.

Posted at 3:27 PM to Soonerland

I didn't mention this, but I did speak to Clingman about those touch screens. He told me that those would have only been used to satisfy a law to make voting more accessible to the visually impaired. And that it would have only been used by the visually impaired. 99.9% of us would have not used that system. Instead of the screens, they opted for a telephone voting system for the visually impaired (accessible only from the polling place).

If and when we get a new system, there still might be a touch screen system for the visually impaired that would hook directly into the optical scanner. Obviously those details would have to be worked out.

Posted by: Steven Roemerman at 3:49 PM on 15 September 2006

And of course, here we see evidence that the pejorative connotation of "hidebound" is sometimes misplaced. Heh.

Posted by: McGehee at 11:24 AM on 16 September 2006