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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pasco: machines good; turnout bad



DADE CITY -- Pasco County's new optical scan voting machines seem to have worked just fine in their first test in today's primary, reports Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley.

The problem is that voters haven't given them much of a test.

As of 6:02 p.m. today, unofficial voter turnout stood at just 10.76 percent of the electorate, according to the supervisor's office. That's just 30,436 out of 282,901 registered voters.

Even worse, the unofficial number of voters who took to the polls to test out the new machines was just 18,474. Absentee voters sent in 6,416 ballots and early voting netted 5,546.

What if turnout for today's primary turns out to be a historic low?

"I would be disappointed, obviously," said the Corley, who was appointed supervisor of elections in 2007. "My wish is to have every eligible voter participate in our elections.

"The old adage comes to mind: If you don't vote, you can't complain."

As for the machines, problems were reported with four of the 147 units. One couldn't be turned on around 6:30 a.m., according to Corley, but was quickly replaced before polls opened at 7 a.m. Three other replacements were rushed out for machines that weren't accepting ballots correctly.

But overall, Corley reports that voters seem to have accepted their third different voting system in eight years.

"I got some feedback from voters via e-mail that said overall they were pleased," Corley said. "Some indicated they missed the touch screens, but overall (optical scanning) was a very simple process to use.

"What I've heard time and time again is that voters are very amenable and adaptable to change."

-- Jamal Thalji, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:34am]


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