California bars punch card voting

California bars punch card voting

California Secretary of State Bill Jones has ordered Los Angeles County and eight other counties to buy new voting machines. About 8.5 million voters no longer will use punch card ballots as a result of Jones’ order.

By January 2006, the nine counties must replace the two types of punch card voting machines they use now: Votomatic devices made by Election Systems and Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb., and Pollstar units made by Election Data Direct Inc. of Escondido, Calif.

“It is our hope that the counties will acquire the resources to replace these systems in time for the presidential election in 2004,” said Shad Balch, spokesman for the Secretary of State.

He added that Los Angeles County has estimated the cost of replacing its voting equipment at $100 million.

Gov. Gray Davis now is considering a bill sent to him by the Legislature that would mandate a $200 million bond issue to help pay for new voting equipment. If Davis signs the measure, the state’s voters will approve or turn down the bond issue in a March 2002 poll.

Los Angeles County has about 4.5 million voters.

The American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in Northern California, San Diego and Southern California sued Jones last April in federal court to force a statewide ban on punch card voting machines. The ACLU suit charged that the use of punch card machines disproportionately discriminates against African-American and Latino voters.


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