Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Callahan Christens Touch Screens Town First in State to Use Voting System

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Callahan Christens Touch Screens Town First in State to Use Voting System

Article excerpt

Byline: Binyamin Appelbaum, Times-Union staff writer

The little town of Callahan held Florida's first touch-screen election yesterday.

Claudine Braddock, Mark McAninch and John Sikes emerged from a field of four to claim seats on Callahan's town council as Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan and elections officials from around the state watched voters put touch-screen technology to the test.

The 962 residents of the Callahan crossroads were more than happy to oblige.

"Even the ones who usually cast absentee ballots decided to show up," said Bobbie Boone, the clerk of elections. "They told me, 'I won't be picking up my ballot this year, Ms. Bobbie. I want to come and vote.' "

And so they did, trickling in to an all-purpose room at the one-story town hall-fire station for a demonstration of the new technology, a quick walk to one of four voting booths and a 10-second touch-screen experience that left a smile on most faces.

"I'm so proud of Callahan," said Mildred Caulkins, beaming after she cast her ballot with three taps of a finger. "It's progress and I'm proud of Callahan for getting it first."

That was a combination of luck and determination.

Nassau County had borrowed optical scan ballot boxes for an April city commissioner election in Fernandina Beach. At the time, the state had not yet certified any touch-screen voting systems.

"I thought we would use it again here," said Vicki Cannon, Nassau County supervisor of elections, who was determined to move past punch cards after waiting until 2:30 a.m. for the results of her own election last fall.

Then, on Aug. 16, the state certified the iVotronic system, created by Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems & Software. Cannon jumped at the opportunity.

"Since we're buying new equipment, we might as well go ahead and get the best possible equipment," she said.

The system works like an ATM. Voters indicate preferences by tapping the screen next to each candidate's name; selections are then highlighted for review or alteration. …

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