Fla. Votes to End Punchcard Voting
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ The Florida House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to do away with the state’s punchcard voting system and its dangling, pregnant, and dimpled chads.
The measure to move to an electronic ballot system passed the House 114-3. The Senate is considering a similar bill.
The punchcards were at the center of Florida’s disputed presidential election last year and getting rid of them was part of an overall election reform package.
The House bill would provide low-interest loans to the counties to make the changes. It would make electronic systems such as optical scanners and touch-screen voting the only ones certified by the state. The Senate plan would give the counties a total of $20 million outright to make changes.
The three ``no″ votes were all from Democrats, who complained that the state was requiring counties to upgrade voting systems without giving them the money to do it.
``They will either have to raise their taxes to pay for voting machines or ... sacrifice other needs,″ said Minority Leader Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat from West Palm Beach.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Jeb Bush said the governor also recognized the need for funding and would work with lawmakers to resolve the issue.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Dudley Goodlette, said the House would be breaking its promise with voters by not changing the system.
``The only shame that will fall on this body today ... is if we don’t do anything,″ said Goodlette. ``Whether we do it by grant or by loan is secondary. What the citizens of Florida have said to us is we want to make sure that every vote is counted.″
On the Net:
Florida Legislature: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Welcome/index.cfm