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Reports Indicates Kentucky Not Election Ready

FRANKFORT, KY -- Local and state officials take issue with a report that says Kentucky is among 10 states least prepared for the larger-than-normal turnout expected for the 2008 presidential election, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Saturday edition.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law issued a report this week that said Kentucky is ill-prepared to address "all the most common election system meltdowns" such as machine breakdowns and fraud.

Although Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins said the report is put out by people with an agenda to push states away from all-electronic voting, Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson has recommended that counties buy machines that provide some sort of paper trail, the Herald Leader reports.

"Our essential question: In the event of voting system failures, how prepared is each state to ensure that every voter can vote and that each vote cast is counted?" the Brennan Center report said.

"We are absolutely ready for the election, despite what their report tries to claim," Grayson said Friday. "For them to conclude that we are not ready is wrong and irresponsible."

County clerks anticipate a large turnout for the Nov. 4 election based on the increased numbers seen in voter registration, absentee ballots and walk-in voting, reports the Herald Leader.

"I mean, it's really up," said Pam Wise, deputy county clerk in Scott County. "It's going to be a very good turnout, very heavy."

The Brennan Center report recommends that states move to some sort of voter-verified paper record in their voting system as a check against potential electronic miscounts. The only two forms of these records are optical scan ballots, which are filled out by the voter and read by a scanner, and "paper trails," which are printed and used with touch-screen machines.

Grayson noted that voters in 34 Kentucky counties, including Bourbon, Scott and Woodford, will vote for the first time on new digital scan voting systems. Jefferson County has used a similar optical scan system for years. The digital scan system provides a paper record that was recommended by the Brennan Center report. More than 90 counties in Kentucky already use the machines for absentee balloting, reports the newspaper.

Grayson agrees on the effectiveness of paper-based systems. But Blevins, the Fayette County clerk, does not.

Fayette County continues to use electronic eSlate machines that do not offer a paper trail to verify votes, the newspaper reports.

Blevins said the Brennan report is the latest installment in "a national argument" about the best voting system. He disagrees with the conclusion that a paper-based voting system offers more security than an electronic machine, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.

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