County, state officials will usher voters into the future

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Forward-thinking Lincoln County officials said this week theywill take full advantage of a state-negotiated plan to providetouch-screen, computerized voting machines for the county.

To comply with the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 – theproduct of the 2000 presidential election fiasco in Florida – allstates have until January to adopt technology aimed at curtailingsuch voting and vote-counting problems. Under the provisions of theact, the federal government will pay 95 percent of the cost ofobtaining updated voting machines.

While Mississippi counties were left with the option of findingtheir own machines and negotiating their own deals, our countyofficials were wise to follow Secretary of State Eric Clark’slead.

Clark negotiated with a voting machine manufacturer last monthfor the mass purchase of touch-screen units. For those counties whoagree to buy those machines, the state will pick up the remaining 5percent of the tab, leaving the county owing nothing. LincolnCounty officials did say, however, that they may purchase more thantheir allotment and will have to pay $2,900 for each extra machine- still quite a bargain for the latest voting technology.

Some across the state – officials and their constituents alike -have expressed doubts (or even fear) about the new machines,listing cost, security and accuracy among their concerns. Some havegone as far as to worry that electronic balloting will makeelections vulnerable to fraud. That’s nothing new. Elections canjust as easily be rigged with pencil and paper as with acomputer.

Concerns aside, it boils down to this: federal law mandated thechange, and Lincoln County officials have complied, opting forsmooth elections, fast counting and accurate results. And the movewill save county taxpayers money to boot.

We’ll vote for that any day.