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    MOSCOW, PETERSBURG TO USE AUTOMATIC BALLOT COUNTING MACHINES

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    MOSCOW, February 6, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Nikolai Makarov) - 1150 automatic ballot counting machines will be installed at polling stations in Moscow and St Petersburg ahead of the March 14 presidential elections, Central Election Commission (CEC) chief Aleksander Veshnyakov said Friday.

    Some 300 or 10% of the overall number of polling stations in Moscow will be equipped with such machines. There will be 2-3 machines per station, according to Mr Veshnyakov.

    "Automatic systems take a precise count of votes and they have no weakness incident to human nature. They will help clear election commissions of the suspicion of poor performance," said Mr Veshnyakov. Moreover, the machines will speed up the count-up dramatically.

    The CEC chief described the decision to equip polling stations with automatic machines as crucial.

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