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John Daley ReportingNew, improved and high-tech, that's what state officials are promising for Utah voters, as they unveiled their selection for new voting machines today. For years we've all grown accustomed to the punch card ballot or some other low-tech system; well, these are not going away just yet.
However, the state has made a decision about the next generation of voting machines, and they are indeed high-tech. Selected after two years of study and a mock vote by the public in March, the computerized touch screen machines are made by Diebold Election Systems.
The new machines will allow for a paper voting trail as well as a computerized audit. They are also equipped to assist the disabled, including an audio format that will let blind people vote without assistance, for the first time. The Lieutenant Governor says the new machines should greatly reduce voter error.
Gary Herbert, (R) Lt. Governor: "This is more akin to an ATM machine, a touch screen system. It's very easy. It's very easy to understand. If you make a mistake, it tells you you've made a mistake and gives you an easy chance to correct."
The big push for new machines came after numerous serious problems were revealed in the presidential election of 2000. The hitch now is that each machine costs more than three-thousand dollars, and the state doesn't know yet how many they will buy.
There'll be a trial run during some municipal elections in November and the Lt. Governor says he hopes the system will be fully operational by primary elections in June of 2006.