The Countyís purchase of the new voting system, ACCU-VOTE, prompted the 1999-2000 Grand Jury (GJ) to monitor the function of the new system on Election Day, March 7 , 2000. The system uses an optical scanning device that records the voterís choices as the voter slides the marked ballot into the machine. The purpose of this investigation and report is to help assure the public that the system was operationally sound, if in fact, that was the case.
The GJ decided to observe the operation of the new voting machines at randomly selected precincts. The GJ wanted to determine if the training was adequate for precinct personnel.
The GJ also wanted to observe the final tallies at Election Headquarters at the County Courthouse, and to see if there are any problems in the precinct machines reporting to the master computer. The Grand Jury wanted to check on the absentee ballots and the counting procedures.
There are 417 precincts in the County. Because of a funding shortfall, only 215 machines were purchased. Of these, 190 were installed at precinct locations and the remainder were used for testing and for counting the absentee ballots.
The Grand Jury observed the following:
The Elections Office always has tremendous difficulty recruiting Election Day personnel. It took approximately 20,000 phone calls to recruit the necessary number (1,235) of volunteers needed. Some County employees were recruited to work at the polls for normal wages. This year even high school students aged 16 and above with a minimum of a 2.5 GPA were allowed to work at the polls. College students were also recruited and allowed to work on a flex schedule, some working half a day or as their school schedule permitted.
The Grand Jury found that, in spite of several minor problems, the ACCU-VOTE machines functioned as expected.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Finding 1: The Elections Office is continuously challenged in recruiting volunteers to work the precincts on Election Day.
Recommendation 1: The BOS should continue supporting the Election Office in their recruiting efforts. Expansion of this effort should include requesting the other county departments, special districts, special service organizations and school districts to increase participation in this endeavor.
Board of Supervisors