This morning at the Bridgeport City Hall Annex, Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz introduced the new optical voting machine that Connecticut will be using.
The Secretary discussed the machines with voting officials from neighboring towns. A complete list of the towns where the demonstrations are scheduled is available HERE.
This video clip is a short demonstration of the machine:
I like the system because it has a very simple paper trail. Tampering will be almost impossible, and if there is a large descrepancy all you need to do is count the paper ballots. It seems fairly hack-proof compared to the Diebold machines (Diebold ATM-style machines; see UPDATE at bottom).
The machines will be implemented in 20 municipalites for the November election, and the remaining towns and cities will be up and running by late SprinG (happy, Eric?) 2007 most likely, and definitely by the following Novemeber. The 20 towns have not be released yet.
A handicapped-accessable phone voting system will be implemented in all 169 towns in Connecticut by November. That means vision-impaired or otherwise handicapped individuals can vote using a touch-tone voice menu, which then automatically generates a fax version of the ballot with the candidates that the persone selected.
This is what the paper ballot looks like. The process goes like this:
Each voter is given a paper ballot. They take it to a "privacy booth" to vote for their candidates. Then they take it over to the voting machine and insert it in any direction. The machine reads the ballot, tabulates the vote, and then drops the ballot into a lock box. The ballots provide a foolproof paper trail in the event a recount is needed.
If there is an "over-vote" on the ballot (more than one person selected for a position) or no votes at all (and only ONE vote is needed anywhere on the ballot; you don't HAVE to vote for every office), the machine spits the ballot back out. A volunteer will assist you in correcting your mistake by issueing you a new ballot.
If the voter desires absolute privacy, a privacy envelope is provided, which slips over the ballot like a sleeve, and you can insert it into the voting machine so the ballot isn't exposed at all once you leave the privacy booth.
We appreciate Secretary Bysiewicz's assistance in helping people understand this new technology.
UPDATE: I found more information about the tabulating machine. It is a Diebold manufactured machine, which normally would set off alarm bells in a blue state like Connecticut. But again, the thing I like is that there IS a voter-verified paper trail (the ballot that the voter had personally filled out and placed in the tabulator) as opposed to those ATM-style fully electronic voting machines.
Here's an overview of the optical voting machine.
Here's a more detailed pdf file.
And finally, a commenter remarked on how much the new voting machine looks like a paper shredder.
Well, I hacked into the secret master computer server at Diebold, where they keep all their proprietary technical infomation, and found this inside-the-box image of the new voting machine:
(note: image may actually be something other than a Diebold machine. please don't sue me.)