"Three (county) cities stepped forward," to participate in Tuesday's election, Rawlings said. "Farmington City was the first to approach us, and they also were chosen because of their proximity."
Farmington City Recorder Margy Lomax said the city is making the switch, not from punch cards, as were used elsewhere in the county, but from paper ballots. Under that system, separate "counting judges" would start tallying votes, wherever there were 25 or more from a polling place, after 6 p.m. on election nights. One year, votes were counted by 8:50 p.m., or less than an hour after the polls closed.
She said the new system probably would provide for as quick a tabulation. David Bear, spokesman for Diebold, the company providing the election machines, said speed of tabulations was actually third on a list of priorities, behind safety and security of votes.
He said Utah is the third state to start using the system, behind Maryland and Georgia. In Georgia, he said the number of "understated" votes dropped from upwards of 3-1/2 percent in the 2000 election to well under one-half of one percent, for the highest improvement.
The state is paying for 833 new machines for Davis County election precincts, at a cost of about $3,000 each. They will be stored in the basement of the Farmington Branch library, where renovation work is nearly complete.
Bear explained how the touch-tone voting system is "very user friendly," guiding voters through with prompts. For example, if a particular race is missed, the voter will be reminded of that fact, although he or she can opt not to vote for a particular race. In addition, votes can't be ruined accidentally, as was possible with the punch card system.
"We had a couple machines at the (county) fair, and looked specifically for seniors to watch for their reactions. At first they were often skeptical, but then 99 percent said they loved it," Rawlings said.
Voters use an ATM or credit-looking card which cannot be used a second time by the same person, and automatically is "spit out" if it's programmed incorrectly or has already been used.
Each vote is recorded in several places, but all votes are anonymous and randomized so it's not possible by any sort of number to determine whose vote was cast when, Bear said.
Special needs are taken into account by everything from enlarged type capability to earphones for the hearing impaired, to the possibility to place the keypad in a voter's lap.