Glitches plague voting machines

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The voting machines that Broward County ordered to replace its problematic punch-card system have their own glitches -- more than two-thirds of the first batch were defective, officials said.

About 70 of the first 101 ATM-style touchscreen machines had dim monitors, making it difficult to read the screens. On other machines, buttons didn't light up or legs didn't attach correctly.

Election Systems & Software, the company that is providing 5,000 of the machines to the county for $18 million, said it would fix the problems.

"This is not normal for us, and we will get to the bottom of it," said Mike Shane, the company's vice president for manufacturing.

County officials haven't lost confidence in touchscreen technology. Lisa Stachan, assistant to election supervisor Miriam Oliphant, said Tuesday that the problem was caught because they decided to carefully inspect each shipment.

"We decided to take those first 101 machines and go over them inch by inch," she said. "We're dotting our I's, crossing our T's and we're making sure our machines work. After this initial problem, we're hoping we won't see the problem again."

Florida counties must use either touchscreen or optical scanning machines in future statewide votes after difficulties with punch-card ballots delayed the results of the 2000 presidential election by more than a month. President Bush won the state by 537 votes.

Miami-Dade County has approved a $24.5 million contract with the same company for touchscreen voting equipment.

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