by Martha Sadler and Devin Thomas

Cast Your Ballot: June 6 is Election Day — that fevered rush to find your polling place, remember what you read about the candidates, and embrace your fundamental rights as an American. For first-time voters and veterans alike, casting your ballot can be a hassle, but there are simple steps you can take to ease the process. To find your polling place, go to and type in your address. The Web site also provides information on candidates. You can also call the county Elections Office at 568-2200 to make your vote an educated one. If you are voting absentee, your ballot must be received by 8 p.m. on June 6 to be counted. If you’re not sure that snail-mail will get your ballot there on time, drop it off at your polling place on June 6 or at the Elections Office — 130 E. Victoria Street — anytime before then. And don’t let a lost absentee ballot prevent you from flexing your political muscles; simply go to your polling place and fill out a provisional ballot.

Protect Your Vote: For the last eight years, Santa Barbara County has used a mechanical voting system known as Accuvote, which it purchased from Global voting systems before Global was purchased by Diebold. The completely electronic — and therefore easily corruptible — touch-screen Diebold voting systems were used during the disputed 2004 presidential election; they were first viewed with suspicion when the company president expressed hope and confidence that George W. Bush would win. But Santa Barbara’s machines — which scan paper ballots marked by voters — fulfill the Secretary of State’s paper-trail requirement. Each polling place holds its own tallies until closing time, when it transmits the counts to the Elections Office’s main computer via an encrypted phone line. The Elections Office’s counts are later compared to the polling place’s paper ballots and cumulative memory cards. Moreover, explained county Election Manager Bob Smith, multiple passwords held by only two people are needed to access the computers, and video cameras record all of the operations. “I can guarantee that our system in this county is not going to be broken into,” Smith said. To report any problems at the polls, call (877) OUR-VOTE.

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