MIAMI – Miami-Dade County's elections chief has recommended ditching its ATM-style voting machines, just three years after buying them for $24.5 million to avoid a repeat of the hanging and dimpled chads from the 2000 election.
Elections supervisor Lester Sola (search) said in a memo Friday that the county should switch to optical scanners that use paper ballots, based on declining voter confidence in the paperless touch-screen machines and quadrupled election day labor costs.
Fifteen of Florida's 67 counties chose touch-screen machines after the 2000 election fiasco. The machines have caused problems during at least six elections, including the September 2002 primary, when some polls could not open and close on time and Democratic primary results for governor were delayed by a week.
Miami-Dade would be the first place in the nation to ditch the iVotronics (search) machines for paper-based balloting, said Ken Fields, a spokesman for Election Systems & Software (search) of Omaha, Neb., the company that makes the devices.
Sola said it would cost $9.4 million to $12.3 million to equip the entire county with optical scan machines.
His report was forwarded to the county commissioners who must decide whether to get rid of the machines. The touch-screen machines will be used in elections while the issue is decided, officials said.