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Oklahoma will benefit from new voting machines

BY PAUL ZIRIAX Published: January 16, 2011

Oklahoma is well known for having the best election system in the country. We're about to get even better.

The State Election Board recently announced that Hart InterCivic of Austin, Texas, had been selected to provide new voting scanners, computer equipment and software as part of Oklahoma's upgrade of its statewide voting system to comply with the provisions of the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

Hart was one of five companies that responded to the request for proposals to upgrade Oklahoma's voting system. Hart's proposal had the highest evaluation scores and offered the lowest price, providing the best value for the taxpayers.

Funding for the project is already on hand. During the past several years, all states have received federal HAVA grants to pay for new voting equipment. Oklahoma has about $26 million in HAVA funds available, but the total project will cost far less than that.

The new equipment will be installed throughout all 77 counties in time for the 2012 elections. Our goal is that average Oklahoma voters won't notice a difference in the way they vote. Voters will still use paper ballots, still mark those ballots by hand, and still place ballots into a scanner for tabulation — as they have done since 1992. Having this paper backup will continue to be a critical feature of Oklahoma's election system.

Thanks to hardware and software upgrades, Oklahoma elections will have added levels of security. Preparing for and conducting elections will become more efficient. Election results should be available more quickly on election night, and with more detail, all the while maintaining the reliability and accuracy that have become the hallmarks of Oklahoma elections.

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