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House Republicans vote against paper trail

House Republicans on the Policy and Budget Council voted down two amendments this morning that would have set aside money to create a paper trail for touchscreen voting machines, including one amendment that would put up $32.9 million for the job, which is enough money to replace touchscreen machines with optical scan ones.

The vote was a straight party line vote, with House Democrats siding with Republican Gov. Charlie Crist on replacing the voting machines, while House Republicans were unified in their opposition. Those Republicans voting against the amendment included those who represent Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Miami-Dade has had problems with its touchscreen machines in recent elections. Rep. David Rivera, a Miami Republican, said he doesn't trust touchscreen machines and he always votes by absentee. But he and other Republicans said it was unfair to "punish" those counties that bought optical scan machines, while others bought touchscreen machines.

Rep. Ron Saunders, a Key West Democrat, replied that he didn't care about the counties but the voters. "Just because the counties screwed up and got the wrong machines doesn't mean I want to punish voters,'' said Saunders.

Rep. Dennis Baxley said the issue was more about perception than reality, then he suggested those pushing the issue were upset about who has won elections in Florida, a veiled reference to the contested 13th Congressional District race that is still the subject of a challenge by Democrat Christine Jennings.

"The fact is that some people don't like the outcome of elections so they question the integrity of these elections,'' said Baxley.