Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Aug. 19, 2002

Bergen, Hollywood getting automatic ballot counters

By Julie Yurek

Voters in Bergen and Hollywood townships will see a new piece of equipment at the halls.

Both townships purchased automatic ballot counters.

Bergen's counter is still at McLeod County, getting programmed, Clerk Pat Lemke said.

"The machine will beep right away if a ballot is done incorrectly, so we can have the person revote," Lemke said.

Many townships in McLeod County are getting counters, but it's not mandatory, Lemke said.

There is grant money available to cities and townships if they do want to purchase a counter, Lemke said.

The grant is from the county, which comes from the state, Lemke said.

"We'll still have to count the ballots at the end, but it's just to make sure the print out and our count match," she said.

"The process is very computerized," Lemke said.

Hollywood already has its counter, the Eagle Two Precinct Counter, according to Clerk Sherman Steffenson.

The ballot results are sent into the county over the phone through a modem, Steffenson said.

"Now we won't have to hand deliver the ballots to the county," he said.

Most of the townships in Carver County have automatic counters too, Steffenson said.

"That deal in Florida caused some pandemonium about getting things counted accurately," he said.

The counter will make the most difference for the primary, he said.

"Before, about 20 percent of the votes were kicked out because they crossed over," he said.

Though now with the Eagle, the improperly filled out votes will be spit back out, and the voter will get another chance to correctly fill out the ballot, Steffenson said.

Hollywood was also able to use grant money to pay for about half of the machine, he said.

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