Without enough money to hold a mock election, Miami-Dade County elections officials bought newspaper ads to teach residents about the new touchscreen voting machines before next month's primary.

A quarter-page ad appeared this week in The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, its Spanish language counterpart, instructing voters how to operate the machines. A short video of voting instructions was given to local TV stations for use close to the Sept. 10 primary.

"It's not easy to get people to take the time to test these machines. You've got to go where people are,'' said David Leahy, Miami-Dade elections supervisor.

Leahy said the county can't afford to mail out brochures on how to operate the new machines or send sample ballots to voters like some other Florida counties are doing.

The county bought 7,200 iVotronic machines for its 946,537 registered voters, Leahy said. Miami-Dade forked up $24 million for the touchscreen computers while the state put up $2 million.

Miami-Dade has used up the $600,000 it received from the state for voter education, Leahy said.

Instead, Leahy has also been taking the machines out to shopping malls, civic centers and retirement homes for voters to practice.