SARASOTA - A deal to replace Sarasota County's touchscreen voting machines was struck July 10, 2007. County officials negotiated a $2.9 million deal with the Diebold company to provide voting machines that will provide a paper trail starting in August 2008.
The machines are a newer version of the kind used without controversy in Manatee County.
An estimated 20,000 votes were not cast for either candidate in the U.S. congressional race between eventual winner Vern Buchanan and Christine Jennings last November.
Critics allege that the touchscreen machines used in Sarasota County were to blame.
The county’s touch-screen machines have been at the center of a controversy over 18,000 undervotes cast in the November 2006 election when Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, beat Democrat Christine Jennings by 369 votes.
Jennings was on hand Tuesday when county commissioners approved the contract to buy the new voting system. If that voting system had been in place last year it would have prevented last November’s controversy and Jennings said she wanted to be on hand Tuesday to see the touch-screen system officially replaced.
“I thought I’d rest better,” she said.