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Feb 1
Florida To Change Voting Machines - Again

Florida's Republican Gov. Charlie Crist "reasserted his commitment Thursday to replace Florida's touch-screen voting machines with new scanners that produce a paper record, despite questions about how well the alternate technology can accommodate voters who are disabled or don't speak English," reports the Miami Herald.

If approved by state lawmakers, the $32.5 million plan would aim to put the machines in place by the September 2008 presidential elections. The optical scan machines would be used statewide.

''We're not asking the local governments to pay for it,'' Crist told several hundred members of the Voters Coalition in Palm Beach County. ``We're proposing in the governor's budget . . . about $32 million to pay for this.''

Crist's announcement ... comes amid mounting concern that the touch-screen machines used in 15 of the state's 67 counties are subject to glitches. On Nov. 7, call centers in Broward and Miami-Dade counties received dozens of complaints that touch-screen machines froze, displayed error messages or showed a vote for the wrong candidate.

While elections officials asserted that no votes were lost, critics have long countered that without a paper record, it's impossible to verify the machines' accuracy, and difficult to prevent fraud.

The story isn't clear if the machines will produce a paper record to be kept by election commissions only, or if each individual voter also will get a copy of that receipt. If a paper record is produced voters should get a chance to review it before they leave the polling station, but not take it with them.

Why? Because giving voters a paper record of how they voted would enable election tampering via organized vote-buying by unscrupulous campaigns.

Whatever Florida decides to do, let's hope they get it right. The last thing the nation needs is another contested presidential election that comes down to a disputed vote in Florida.

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