Saturday, October 13, 2007

Want to Buy a Used Voting Machine?

So what do you do with a warehouse full of useless stuff that you still owe $33 million on?

It used to be that everyone wanted a Florida voting machine.

After the history-making presidential recount of 2000, Palm Beach County sold hundreds of its infamous Votomatic machines to memorabilia seekers, including a group of chiropractors in Arizona, the cable-news host Greta Van Susteren and the hotelier André Balazs. One machine ended up in the Smithsonian Institution. Dozens were transformed into pieces of contemporary art for an exhibition in New York.

But now that Florida is purging its precincts of 25,000 touch-screen voting machines — bought after the recount for up to $5,000 each, hailed as the way of the future but deemed failures after five or six years — no one is biting.

“I think we are going to have them on hand for a while,” said Arthur Anderson, the elections supervisor in Palm Beach County, which must jettison 4,900 touch-screen machines for which it paid $14.5 million in 2001 and still owes $4.8 million. “They are probably, for the most part, headed to the scrap pile.”

One word: e-Bay.