VOTING 101

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 smartvoter.org/ca/sba
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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