SPECIAL SERIES : 2003 California Recall Election
Arrow Marks the Spot
Casting ballots still a challenge for voters
October 7, 2003 4:29 PM
San Francisco voters got their third chance to cast their vote via the city’s optical-scan ballot method in Tuesday’s recall election. The equipment developed by ES&S Technology eliminates the problem of the punch card balloting used in other California counties that civil rights groups predict could cause voter accuracy problems.
“I like the method from the last presidential election. It’s a lot easier. You just have to punch ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” said Katie Hubbard, a junior majoring in English. “The new method is confusing at first.”
The voting method wasn't the only cause of difficulty. Other voters had problems voting because of the cluttered ballot, filled with more than 100 candidates.
With the optical-scan method, voters fill in the empty portion of an arrow pointing to their preferred option on the ballot with a special marker. Scanners used to analyze the ballot are similar to those that are used to grade standardized state tests and the SATs.
The new system was introduced in 2001 after the 2000 presidential election and the controversy that followed about voting counts, stemming from the infamous “hanging chads” left over from traditional punch ballot cards.
In late September, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit hoping for a temporary stay against the state to block the recall, claiming residents in counties that still used older methods were disenfranchised. A 3-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals first granted a stay, but a full 11-member panel from the court ruled against the stay on Sept. 23, saying voters had a state constitutional right to a recall in the quickest time possible.
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