Election Process Back To Basics

Hanging chads are a thing of the past for Ada County voters–those familiar punch card ballots are being replaced by simple “legal size” paper 8.5 x 14 inch ballots.
These will be filled in with a black fine point felt pen and read with an optical scanner–like those old SAT and college tests we all remember where a “#2 lead pencil was essential.

The new system offers a “paper trail” and seems to be more tamper proof than various computer methods.

The punch card and stylus system is no longer used because there was only one guy in the country who knew how to fix the reader machines.

The paper ballots with blank oval boxes to be filled in are as simple as the new “booths” which are a cleverly designed pasteboard box which pops into an instant polling position. Vote%20Booth.jpg
The box booths will probably last only for an election cycle or two, but they only cost $3 and don’t require any assembly or electricity.

The May 27th primary election is bound to be another “yawner” as the dems and repubs get their final candidates sorted out for the November general election. It is a long ballot with county commishes and state legislative candidates.

Ada election officials are urging folks to “vote early” (but not often) to help with the expected delays caused by the new system and the lengthy ballot. Questions are being taken at 208-287-6860.

The entire press release with ALL the information you could ever want follows on CONTINUE page.


Ada County Election Officials Encourage Voters to “Vote Early” to Avoid the Rush at the Polls on Election Day

County expands early voting locations to include Meridian

(Boise, Idaho) – The Ada County Clerk’s Election Division has added a new early voting location for Ada County residents looking to cast their ballot prior to the May 27th Primary Election. Beginning May 12, county residents may now vote early at the Ada County Weed, Pest, and Mosquito Abatement Office located at 975 E. Pine Avenue in Meridian. Residents may also vote early at the Public Safety Building located at 7180 Barrister Drive in Boise. Early voting locations are open to the public Monday thru Friday 8am to 5pm and are clearly identified by “VOTE HERE” signs.

“Meridian has seen significant population growth over the past several years,” said Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Chris Rich. “We hope residents living in western Ada County will consider taking advantage of this new early voting location. By casting their ballot early, residents can avoid any delay that might occur at their regular polling location on Election Day.”

Election officials will continue to offer early voting services at the Public Safety Building in Boise. There are no special requirements associated with voting early. Ada County residents who are not registered to vote may do so at the early voting locations and at their regular polling location on Election Day. Unregistered voters must provide a current/valid photo I.D. or a copy of a current utility bill or other piece of mail that verifies their name and address.

“We have gone to great lengths to reduce wait times at our polling locations. Earlier this year, we expanded the number of voting precincts and polling locations to accommodate the county’s growing population. In the last election, voters witnessed long lines in Precincts 8 and 9 in the Meridian area. We anticipate our efforts to add new precincts in this area, paired with the expanded early voting opportunity in the Meridian area, will help reduce wait times for voters at the polls,” said Chief Deputy Rich.
Ada County voters will likely notice the county’s new voting system when they head to the polls this month. Ada County recently switched to the optical scan ballot voting system, which means voters will use a black or dark blue ink pen to fully darken the oval next to the candidate or initiative they’re voting. The old voting method required the voter to use a stylus to punch a hole in the ballot to cast their vote. In an effort to educate voters about the new voting system, the Ada County Clerk’s Office has developed a “How To Vote” brochure that will be mailed to all 185,000 registered voters in Ada County. Voters can expect to see the brochure arrive in their mailboxes between May 9th and May 12th. In addition to instructions on how to vote using the new optical scan ballots, the mailing will also include the recipient’s precinct information and the address of their polling location.

“Ada County voters should expect to spend a little more time in the voting booth, simply because it takes longer to darken an oval as compared to using a stylus to punch a hole in a ballot,” said Chief Deputy Rich. “It is important voters make their mark dark and fill in the entire oval. Using “X”s or check-marks is not allowed. Voters are also instructed not make any stray marks or write in the margins of their ballots. Doing so may invalidate the entire ballot, which means their vote would not count. If a voter makes a mistake on the ballot they should ask the election official for a new ballot.”

Aside from using a new ballot, voters are also sure to notice lines that have been marked thru certain candidates’ names. Voters SHOULD NOT BE ALARMED by these ballot modifications. Ada County election officials had to update the ballots to remove the names of candidates who dropped out of their respective races.

“In order to mail ballots to our military overseas, we must print the ballots before the deadline to withdraw.” said Chief Deputy Rich. “Unfortunately, two candidates dropped out after we had gone to print. These conflicting deadlines are what prompted the ballot modifications – not only in Ada County but in many Idaho counties. We will work with our colleagues at the state to see what can be done to correct this problem in the future.”

Voters with questions about the election process, or those who might want to request an absentee ballot, should visit the Ada County Web site at: Once there click on the Clerk, Auditor, Recorder link and then Elections. Voters may also call: 208-287-6860.

Meridian Early Voting Location
Ada County Wee, Pest, & Mosquito Abatement Office
975 E. Pine Avenue, Meridian Idaho

Boise Early Voting Location
Ada County Public Safety Building
7180 Barrister Drive, Boise Idaho

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I never could figure out what the problem with the punchcards was. I never saw a hanging chad and the only fuss seemed to be with the morons in Palm Beach County who were Democrats that Algore got all fired up.

    So now we’ve all changed to new forms of voting. Bet you anything that there will be “problems” with these optical scanners as soon as someone doesn’t get the result they wanted.

    Ah – the law of unintended consequences – gotta love it.

  2. I was one of the techs sent to Montana in 2006 to support the ES&S optical scanners during a tight senatorial election. The reliability and read rate was very impressive and anybody who has ever taken an SAT test already knows how to fill out the ballot. Sure there were some ballots rejected for a manual count due to mis marks and over marking but the paper trail was good with no ballots destroyed or mangled by the equipment beyond interpretation.

    I have been formally trained By ES&S at their Omaha headquarters and don’t have much faith in their newer technologies like touch screen voting but I think Ada County made a wise decision in going with optical scanning. Fast, accurate and relatively problem free, but no technology choice is absolute and hand recounts will happen. At least with the system Ada County has chosen a paper trail will remain.

    By the way, I do not work for ES&S, my last gig for them was a contract job, but I can give you a lot of stories about the Help America Vote Act and how it was manipulated by the vendors and lobbies who each want to provide a high priced, proprietary system and have it made mandatory across the entire U.S.A. I’m glad Ada County went with the proven after reading about the problems in other states with the newer technologies.

  3. Just a Question
    May 7, 2008, 7:24 am

    When the Supreme Court stages a coup to put their candidate in power, does the quality of the paper trail matter?

    Just a question

  4. A majority is not a coup.

  5. Just a Question
    May 9, 2008, 3:33 pm

    I agree that Bush the Younger, Bush the Thief, Bush the Incompetent, got a majority of the votes of the Supreme Court Justices. But he didn’t have a majority of the popular vote, not even in Florida.

    That is why it was a coup.

  6. bert farber
    May 14, 2008, 1:13 pm

    I thought a De Ville was a coupe. Looks like you learn somethin’ new every day with this Guardian guy and his pitchers.

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