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FL guv wants to junk all touch-screen machines

Gov. Charlie Crist will offer $30m to replace electronic voting machines with paper ballots, optical scan systems.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

In Florida, it's back to the future. The state whose election irregularities sent the presidential election of 2000 to the Supreme Court and spawned a crisis in the trustworthiness of electronic voting machines wants to go back to all paper ballots. Gov. Charlie Crist will ask the Florida Legislature to spend more than $30 million to replace touch screens with paper ballots and an optical scan system, The St. Petersburg Times reports.

Under optical scan systems voters fill in bubbles, much like on standardized school tests. Pushing his initiative, Crist travels to Palm Beach County, home of the disgraced "butterfly ballot" that in 2000 became a symbol of electoral ineptitude, where he will offer up the money to replace every electronic voting machine in the state.

"I think it's important to make sure people have confidence in our voting system," Crist said Wednesday. "If there's a need for a recount, I think it's important that we have something to recount."

Local elections officials responded cautiously.

Pinellas County supervisor of elections spokeswoman Nancy Whitlock said she was reluctant to comment on Crist's proposal before the governor makes his announcement. In 2001, Pinellas spent $14-million to buy an electronic voting system, much of it spent toward buying touch screen machines.

Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley said transparency and security are key points. "It's no secret Florida ... has been a lightning rod of controversy," Corley said. "There seems to be the will of the people to move toward paper trails. If that would satisfy the people, then I would support it."

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