Editorial: A scan plan

Election Commission should use scan machines for liquor referendum
Jan. 24, 2013 @ 11:53 PM

If any good can come out of the mishandled Pigeon Forge liquor referendum, it’s the introduction of a scan vote machine that would be used for the upcoming referendum do-over.

It has long been known that the current type of voting machine used in this county and across the state does not leave a paper trail and is more vulnerable to tampering. The scan machine, in which a voter fills out a ballot usually by connecting lines or arrows, then places it in a machine that scans it and records the votes, would be a major step in a process this county has a chance to ease into ahead of what will be a mandated switch in the coming months.

The Sevier County Election Commission is considering a proposal from a machine manufacturer to let the company provide a free demonstration of scan machines in the referendum. Unisyn Voting Solutions is offering to let the commission use machines in the March 14 referendum that were approved last year by the state.

The company would bring in the machines and train staff on them for free, as well as have personnel present to oversee their use throughout the election process.

If local election commissions will be making the change to scan machines anyway, and if the company is willing to provide the equipment and train the staff at no cost, it seems a perfect opportunity for at least some voters to get to see how the machines work and take them out for a spin.

Of course, Unisyn is not being wholly altruistic in this. The company no doubt would like its product and cooperation remembered when the Election Commission or the county buys the scan machines one day. But for now, this is an offer too good to pass up.

The Election Commission has taken its lumps lately, and much of it has been deserved. Here is a chance to do something positive to help restore its image and reputation. A paper trail for votes in the hotly contested liquor referendum would be a smart idea.