Some Vermont voting machines to get audit

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(Host) In an effort to evaluate the accuracy of optical scan voting machines in today’s election, Vermont officials will conduct an audit of some of these machines next week.

It marks the first time the state has ever conducted this kind of a post election audit.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) There are roughly 75 communities in Vermont that use optical scan voting machines – these towns represent about two thirds of all voters in the state.

Voters in these towns receive a paper ballot and they fill in circles next to the candidates they’re supporting. The ballots are then fed into a scanning machine to tabulate the results.

No towns in Vermont have the computer touch screen machines that are now being used in a number of other states.

Later this week, Vermont election officials will select about a dozen towns to be audited after the election.

Deputy Secretary of State Bill Dalton says all the paper ballots will be hand counted and the results will be compared to those tabulated by the optical scan machines:

(Dalton) “This is the first time that the chief election official may decide to conduct a random audit in other words to use a process by which you will pick a few polling places to double check after the fact whether or not a recount of the paper ballots or an audit of the machines by counting the paper ballots will take effect.”

(Kinzel) Dalton says lawmakers mandated this post election audit to reassure voters about the accuracy and the integrity of these voting machines:

(Dalton) “Over the course of time the things that have gone on in other parts of the country – any time you have something that is in effect a computer program there has been the concerns. And so to further reassure ourselves of the security of the Vermont election process, we asked the Legislature to put this cross check in place.”

(Kinzel) Dalton also says all of the optical scan machines are tested just before Election Day to prevent any tampering with the tabulation process:

(Dalton) “The requirement is that these machines are tested prior to the actual voting as well so that there’s a whole bunch of security things that occur along the way to make sure that no one can sort of somehow or another reprogram them in a way.”

(Kinzel) Dalton says the post election audit will be held in Montpelier a week from Thursday.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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