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Primary Eliminated

Leroy Collins, Reuben Askew, Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles all finished second the first time they sought statewide election.

Now lawmakers are planning on skipping the runoff in 2004. Social scientist Lance de Haven Smith says that will require parties to think differently.

"It really limited the extent to which, especially the democrats, can nominate a person that really represents the party, as opposed to a small part of the party," says Lance.

Ironically, new touch screens were supposed to make elections supervisor’s jobs easier. Instead, it has lengthened the time supervisors need between elections.

"Each one of those 7,000 touch screen voting machines in Miami Dade for example, have to be individually programmed and that requires a lot of time," says Ion Sancho, Leon elections supervisor.

Sponsors of the legislation say they want to avoid a repeat of problems in 2002 and the botched 2000 election.

"I think that giving it some additional time to see how this new equipment works, to give the poll worker trainers more time to learn the new systems is probably prudent policy," Rep. Dudley Goodlette says.

Many democrats are going along with skipping the 2004 runoff. In exchange they want a preference system that lets voters choose there top two candidates in 2006.

One upside of a preference vote or instant primary is that new candidates would want to antagonize another's voter by using negative campaign tactics, but in 2004, voters that usually cast their first primary ballot for the most extreme right and left candidates will have to rethink their strategy.

The legislation was approved by a house committee Monday morning. It must still be approved by the full House and Senate.


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