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Punch-Card Ballots Get a Vote of Confidence

June 04, 2004|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — The much-maligned punch-card ballot got something Thursday that many election officials were loath to give it in 2000: respect.

Chad or no chad, increasing concern about the security of electronic voting has made the punch cards look pretty good to some -- although most of the machines are expected to be retired by 2006.

"Obviously punch-card voting is not the wave of the future ... but perhaps it is not the devil it has been portrayed," Lance Gough, executive director of Chicago's Board of Election Commissioners, told a hearing of a new federal voting commission.

Infamous for the hanging and dimpled chads that bedeviled election officials in Florida in 2000, punch cards are still expected to be used by nearly 19% of voters nationwide in November, compared with about 30% in 2000, according to Election Data Services Inc.

About 32% of voters will use optical scan machines in November, 29% will vote electronically, 13% will use lever machines and the rest will use a mix of options.

Nearly $3 billion was appropriated in 2002 for states to upgrade voting machines. Congress envisioned replacing lever and punch-card machines by 2006, but didn't specify what should replace them.

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