The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


May 4, 2006

It’s your right

Whatever the method, voters should still vote

Voters are always faced with choices. That’s the essence of the election process.

But as Tuesday’s primary nears, election officials themselves are also making choices.

Because of delays on the part of Election Systems & Software in providing vital software to operate the new touch-screen voting machines, county election officials throughout the state have been forced to scramble to come up with alternate plans for Tuesday’s balloting.

“I am absolutely appalled by ES&S;’ delays and the hardships ES&S; has placed upon this state and our county officials,” Secretary of State Betty Ireland said late last week.

Ireland’s comments came after Kanawha County Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib issued an order extending the testing deadline for the high-tech voting machines until the day before the primary. Under state law, all voting machines must be tested a week before an election.

But with the uncertainty, county officials decided to go with back-up plans. While some remained hopeful of receiving the needed software to get the new touch-screen machines up and running, others made the choice to go with either paper or optical scan ballots.

Is this any way to run an election? No. But it’s important to note that it is not the fault of state and county election officials who have been forced to come up with workable plans after being dealt a bad hand by the vendor. It may not be perfect, but systems, however varied, will be in place Tuesday for the voters.

And it’s equally important to note that we hope voters have not been turned off by what’s transpired over the past few weeks with the new touch-screen machines.

Voting remains one of the fundamental rights we have in this country. By whatever method, your vote will count Tuesday.

It could be a long night in getting those votes counted. New technology was supposed to eliminate that. But we’ve been through that before. We can get through it again.

So be sure to vote on Tuesday. And maintain a sense of appreciation for those dedicated election officials who have done their best to turn a negative situation into a positive one.

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