PINELLAS COUNTY VOTING MACHINES BACK ON TRACK By Roxanne Escobales

08/18/06

Throughout the state early voting for primary elections starts on Monday. The Pinellas County supervisor of elections has been testing the voting machines this week, but the process has not been without its problems. WMNF’s Roxanne Escobales reports.

ACT: “We did not have the accurate results we were expecting…�

Those words from Pinellas County elections spokeswoman Nancy Whitlock are not the most reassuring with early voting for primary elections starting next week. The county began testing the voting machines on Tuesday and found everything in order. But on Wednesday when the public was invited to view the machines being tested for accuracy something went wrong.

ACT: We realized that the database had been changed, they had done an update on it overnight… we restored the original… ran again on Thursday and matched up

With questions hanging over the counting of ballots since the 2000 presidential elections, that does not sound good. But what is this database and why is it important?

ACT: it’s the database that receives the data from the absentee ballots when run through optical scanner…

The state requires counties to test at least two percent of the voting machines that will be used during elections. Pinellas County will use 34-hundred machines, and so 70 of them were tested this week plus two optical scanners that are used to record absentee ballots.

Elections spokeswoman Nancy Whitlock said the touchscreen machines have been used for the past four years, and the county holds regular demonstrations to acquaint voters with how to use them.

ACT: instructions

And Whitlock set out to reassure those concerned about a lack of a paper trail in case a recount is called.

ACT: there is a paper trail, that’s what they don’t realize…

A recount of ballots will be called if there is a half-percent difference between the votes for each candidate. If this happens the county recounts the ballots by using the machines. If the difference is a quarter percent, the ballots are recounted manually, which makes the process more involved.

Whitlock says the county is quite sure the machines are now running accurately. And it has put the proper measures in place to make sure they stay running that way.

ACT:

For WMNF News I’m Roxanne Escobales.

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