OREM — The Orem City Council agreed Tuesday night that using paper ballots read by an optical scanner would be a far more cost-effective way of voting than borrowing expensive touch-screen machines from the county.

City Recorder Donna Weaver presented pros and cons to the council about the different voting methods, recommending the paper ballot as the most logical choice.

Borrowing 143 touch-screen Diebold machines and the corresponding encoders and memory cards from Utah County would cost the city between $28,000 to $33,000 for a primary election. The cost would increase to $38,000 to $43,000 for a general election — far greater than the city's annual election budget of $56,000.

The paper ballots where voters fill in small ovals with a pencil are a significantly less expensive choice, Weaver said, yet still maintain the speed and accuracy of results because of the optical scanner.

Optical scanning has been in place in several states for more than 20 years, Weaver said, and is already used in Utah in connection with provisional and absentee ballots.

Orem previously used punch cards, but the technology needed to read the cards is quickly becoming outdated and difficult to find.

"We want the most user friendly for voters and for the workers, and the one that would give us the most accurate return — that's crucial,"

said Mayor Jerry Washburn. "I have no qualms in following this recommendation."