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Long ballot could be split in 2

Friday, April 28, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter

Cook County voters might cast votes on two smaller ballots this November, instead of a ballot even more enormous than the one that was used in the March primary.

That possibility was raised during a County Board hearing on problems experienced in March.

The meeting, which lasted six hours, bore few new arguments or concerns than what were raised three weeks ago in a similar City Council hearing.

Chicago Board of Elections Chairman Langdon Neal and Cook County Clerk David Orr joined Sequoia Voting Systems President Jack Blaine in apologizing to County Board members for results that were delayed for days as machine snafus slowed the process.

County Board members weren't pushing hard for an idea to withhold payments to Sequoia, which holds contracts totalling $50 million to provide voting machines to city and county precincts.

But they did vote to keep that possibility alive, albeit in committee, while also voting for monthly updates on system improvements and training for election judges.

Election-night problems were traced to human error -- as some judges were unfamiliar with the optical-scan and touch-screen machines -- and to large paper ballots which regularly jammed in optical-scan machines.

After the meeting, Orr spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said with a lengthier November ballot -- due to judicial retention votes -- it's possible that those voting on optical-scan machines will see candidates spread over two ballots.

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