Reluctantly, ID gives up punch card voting

Elections officials much prefer the old system but optical scan technology can't be stopped.

Idaho is the last state with old-fashioned manual punch card voting systems, but that's about to change. Ada County, Idaho is about to switch over to optical scan technology, the Idaho Stateman reports.

County officials are not exactly pleased.

Compared to the punch-card system, county officials say the new system leaves a lot to be desired — it is slower, costlier and consumes more space. "This sounds like the luggage-handling system at (the) Denver airport," Ada County Commissioner Paul Woods said during a presentation by Ada County Clerk Dave Navarro.

But optical scan is the only technology approved by the state. There are a number of disadvantages to making the change. For one thing the new machines will cost the county $500,000 to $700,000, most of which will be paid by the federal government. And the new ballots are quite a bit bigger, so they require more storage space.

"Ballot costs alone will add another $100,000" to the cost of each election, Ada County Deputy Clerk Chris Rich said. Managing the software program and creating and tallying the ballots will require more staff and volunteers with advanced training, Rich said.

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