Palm Beach County, Idaho


As the U.S. heads into another huge presidential election, Idaho has the distinction of being the only state clinging to the old punch card ballot.

Eight Idaho counties still use punchcards, according to Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, where voters puncture their ballot with a sharp poker and pray that the numbers line up and the chads don't hang. No other state in the union still has punch card ballots, Ysursa said.

After the 2000 election, you may recall, the accuracy of punch card ballots in Florida called the results of the entire presidential race into question. Congress passed the Help America Vote Act. One of the provisions of the Act was to encourage counties to move away from the punch card and to provide money for doing so.

But Bingham, Bonneville, Franklyn, Minidoka, Clearwater, Jefferson, Nez Perce and Shoshone counties still use the old systems.

"We really like it or we would have changed it," said Bobbie Jockumsen, chief election judge in Bonneville County. "Why fix something that's not broken?"

Idaho did get a grant to upgrade voting systems in every county, but some counties have not opted to ditch the punchcards yet. Because of the relatively low numbers of ballots in Idaho, each punchcard can be examined for hanging chads or dimples or pregnant chads, Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst said.

"The difference between us and Palm Beach is they have more punch cards in Palm Beach than we have in the state of Idaho," Hurst said.

Hurst also said Idaho counties have pre-defined regulations on what constitutes a valid vote.