Absentee voters to use pencil on CN ballots

BY TESINA JACKSON
06/07/2011 07:49 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizens who are intending to vote absentee in the 2011 tribal elections are expected to use a No.2 pencil when filling out the ballot because of the type of paper the ballots are printed on and the machine being used to count ballots.

“The ballots are counted by machines. Those machines are carbon sensitive,” said Lloyd Cole, Cherokee Nation Election Commission attorney. “When you use a ballpoint pen or ink it is not as likely to pick up the ballot as it would be if it was in pencil.”

This is also not the first year the EC has asked absentee voters to use pencil. Cole said in previous years the ballots have stated that the voter should use a pen or pencil.

“Now if the ballot comes through and for some reason it’s, say it’s in pencil or ball point pen or pen, it doesn’t read it, it kicks it out and then we have to hand read it,” Cole said. “In other words, we have to read it and post it by hand instead of the machine. That’s the reason they want pencil because it’s a carbon and it reads more accurately and we have less that we have to hand count. That’s the primary purpose for pencil.”

When filling out absentee ballots, voters are to complete the arrow with a No. 2 pencil for their candidates of choice or answers to the ballot issues.

Connie Parnell, Cherokee County Election board secretary, said it’s normal for absentee ballots to be filled out in pencil.

She said ballots taking No. 2 pencil marks are used statewide and similar to how a scantron test works, which is what some high schools or universities use to grade students tests.

The scantron test is filled out in pencil and placed through a machine that can only read pencil, like a voting machine.

“And so it’s used to reading that and sometimes there are certain types of inks that they will not read and so it might be if it’s a reflective ink it will not read it,” she said.”

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000, ext. 6139
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