Secretary of State Kurt Browning on Thursday morning set up several voting machines on the first floor of the Capitol to show lawmakers what type of machines would be used if legislators agree to Gov. Charlie Crist's $32.5 million request to junk touchscreen machines in the 15 counties that now use them. Crist is advocating replacing the ATM-styled machines with optical scan machines that accept a paper ballot.
But in order to cut down on the number of paper ballots used, the governor's proposal would allow large counties such as Miami-Dade to still use touchscreen machines for early voting, as long as they had a voter-verified paper trail. One of the machines that Browning's office set up was an ES&S Ivotronic machine similar to the ones used in South Florida _ but attached to the machine was a printer which kept track of all the selections made by the voter. The voter could check to make sure the vote on the screen matches the printed tape, which would remain with the machine and could be used for a recount.
"We want legislators to be able to touch, feel and see what we are talking about,'' said Browning.
Also on display Thursday was the Automark machine _ which was certified for use a day earlier. It's a machine that would allow the visually impaired to vote by optical scan ballot. The state last year forced counties to purchase touchscreen machines in order to comply with federal laws that require handicapped voters to be able to cast a secret ballot.
Among those checking out the machines was Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Lester Sola, who said that using optical scan ballots during early voting would be a logistical challenge because Miami-Dade can have hundreds of different ballot styles. Sola also wants to figure a way to have the optical scan machines inform those speaking Spanish or Creole when they have overvoted in a race.