WASHINGTON (AP) - Gone are the days of voting for America's president behind a curtain with an old-fashioned lever machine. Almost gone, too, are the days of punch-card ballots and those unforgettable hanging chads.
The contested 2000 presidential election and Florida's recount fiasco ushered in a new era of voting in many parts of the country, with more than $3 billion in federal money sent to the states for new voting machines, upgrades and other voting improvements.
That means widespread use of more modern machines, like optical scanners, where voters fill in ovals for their picks and the ballot is scanned with a computer. Or electronic ballots that resemble the touch screen on an ATM.
But some communities, especially smaller ones, continue to use paper ballots that are counted by hand.
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