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Touch screen problems reported in Hillsborough  (FL)

Beau Zimmer    TampaBays 10 News    29 January 2008

Tampa, Florida — The polls closed across most of the state at 7:00 eastern time Tuesday night, and while by most accounts voting ran smoothly, not every Floridian said they got to vote for the candidate they wanted.

In Hillsborough County there were isolated reports of machine calibration issues and other possible problems involving human error.

Tom Cummings is a lifelong Republican and says he went to his local polling place with the intention of voting for Mitt Romney.

“The constitutional amendment came up as the first thing. I voted for that. On the bottom of the screen it said 'next,' and then the screen went blank!” says Cummings, who immediately called over a poll worker for assistance.

“She said, 'You already voted for the amendment.' I said, 'Yeah, but I want to vote for my candidate.' And she said, 'You’ve already voted.' And I said, 'You don’t understand. I want to vote for my candidate.'”

In the end, Cummings was unable to vote for Romney. He believes a poll worker may have accidentally classified him as a voter with no party affiliation.

“It’s outrageous, quite frankly. Not just frustrating. It’s an important right, then all of a sudden they say, 'Sorry you can’t vote.'"

Other problems included calibration issues on the county’s touch screen voting machines where a voter would press the button for one candidate but the machine would read that vote as being cast for another candidate. Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson says the current touch screen system will be replaced this spring in time for November’s General Election.

“It counts correctly, but it’s been like steering a car where you can’t get the alignment right sometimes,” Johnson says. “It’s just that it is difficult to manage.”

3,750 touch screen machines are in use in Hillsborough County. The new machines which will be available in the Spring will scan paper ballots instead.

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