Election officials in Riverside County will borrow about 100 electronic voting machines with printers from San Bernardino County for the city of Riverside's municipal runoff election next month, under an agreement expected to be approved today by supervisors in both counties.
Beginning Jan. 1, state law will require all electronic voting machines to provide voters with a paper record of their ballots. The printing devices to be used with Riverside County's 5-year-old touch-screen voting machines will probably not receive the necessary state and federal certifications in time for the City Council's runoff races Jan. 17, officials said.
The new use of printouts should give voters "more confidence that their vote is being recorded correctly," said Riverside County Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore.
The machines from San Bernardino County are similar to those Riverside voters have used before, Dunmore said.
"There's certainly no visual difference between them," she said.
Touch-screen systems have stirred statewide controversy in recent years.
In 2004, then-Secretary of State Kevin Shelley attempted to ban the machines -- now used by 16 counties -- arguing that they weren't reliable.
The new law requires voters using touch-screen systems to get a paper printout of their selections before their ballots are cast. If the voter makes a change, that printout is voided and a new version produced.
Voters do not take any paper receipt with them; the paper reels are kept by election officials in the event of a recount or lawsuit, said San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Kari Verjil. Local voting records are preserved for six months; state and federal materials for 22 months, after which they are destroyed, Dunmore said.
San Bernardino County used the printers for the first time in November's special election and had connection problems at a couple of polling places and "minimal paper jams," Verjil said.
Outfitting Riverside County's 6,100 voting machines with the $1,000 printers will cost the county about $6.1 million, Dunmore said. San Bernardino's 4,000 machines, including printers, cost about $13.5 million, Verjil said.