Thursday, February 24, 2005


And county elections supervisors end up scrambling to foot the bill --- in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars --- to insure that polling places will be compliant with federal law regarding special voting machines for the disabled.

The law required one of the special handicapped-accessable machines in each precinct, but the legislature's funding was based on the number of polling places. The problem is: In many areas polling places serve two or more precincts, so the election supervisors have to make up the difference.

The state grants paid counties $4,515.38 for each polling location. While that is more than enough to pay for one of Diebold's $4,000 machines, it won't cover the cost of multiple machines that might be required at a single polling location.

For example, Polk County has one polling location in a sparsely populated area that combines four precincts, said Lori Edwards, elections supervisor. That means Edwards' office has to come up with $12,000 of its own money, just for the one polling location.

The problem is bigger than just the difference between polling locations and precincts. The state funding also didn't account for the need for additional machines.

Most elections supervisors have extra machines to handle early voting, public demonstrations and anticipated growth. Then there is always the need for back-up machines in case one or more break down on Election Day.

Maybe our legislators need to take the math portion of the FCAT...


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