Electronic voting machines to be implemented

As presidential elections predicted to be a dead heat are approaching, the state is taking steps to improve its electronic voting machines. Secretary of State Sam Reed said Wednesday some of the measures may not be in effect until 2006, but some are expected to implemented in time for the election.

By 2006, the electronic machines will produce receipts so voters can check their ballots, Reed said. Snohomish and Yakima counties will use the machines, starting this year, at all its polling locations, although they will be retrofitted later to produce the paper trail.

“The most fundamental quality to a democracy is using a voting system people can trust,” Reed said. “To gain the kind of trust and confidence, people have to be able to verify their vote.”

The machines will not be connected to the Internet or another network to prevent hacking attempts.

Some supporters of the paper ballots said 2006 is too generous a deadline and that the machines can be tampered with easily, so voters shouldn’t have to wait for two years to get better access to a better system.