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Browning defends voting machines

With the debate heating up over the reliability of touch screen voting machines, Pasco Supervisor of Elections Kurt Browning assured officials Tuesday that the machines will accurately record every person's vote.

"These systems are sound, they are safe, they are reliable, they are secure," Browning told the county commissioners at the historic courthouse in Dade City. "They are everything and more than what these folks (critics) are advocating."

The machines sparked a controversy this month in Broward and Palm Beach counties, where a special House district election was decided by 12 votes, but 137 people cast ballots without voting for anyone.

Critics said a traditional manual recount was impossible with the computerized machines. Some are pushing for a printer to be attached to each touch screen machine, so that a paper record is made of every person's vote.

But Browning told commissioners that such printers would be costly and unnecessary.

Each machine keeps an electronic record of every ballot cast, he said. Unlike the computers most people use in everyday life, Browning added, these machines are programmed to handle the single function of tracking votes, and each one has three hard drives to ensure no votes are lost.

Pasco has about 1,500 touch screen voting machines, which replaced the punch-card ballot booths made famous by the 2000 presidential election. Fitting each computerized machine with a printer, as some legislators are proposing, could cost Pasco up to $2-million, Browning said.

"I don't think our county needs to be paying additional money to upgrade our systems that are already certified and already work," Browning said.