Skip to comments.Lawmaker sues to add paper trail to new voting machines
Posted on 03/09/2004 6:43:22 AM PST by NautiNurse
WEST PALM BEACH -- Florida's voting machines came under attack again Monday when a lawmaker sued state election supervisors because new ballot counters lack a paper trail needed for possible recounts.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler said voters need to be assured every vote is counted, particularly in close races where a manual recount is required by law.
"Why doesn't Gov. Bush simply say, "Let's improve our Florida election system even more than we've done so, provide for certainty and provide for security and in case something goes wrong, have a back up?'" Wexler said moments after filing the lawsuit in federal court.
"Then all Floridians, Republicans and Democrats and independents alike can have confidence in our system."
The Department of State notified elections supervisors last month that manual recounts don't have to include ballots from Florida's new touchscreen voting machines because there is no question about how voters intended to vote.
The computerized voting machines replaced the state's infamous punch card ballots, which produced the dimpled, hanging and pregnant chads at the heart of the 2000 presidential election controversy. The confusion over vote counting led to 36 days of recounts which ultimately awarded George W. Bush the presidency.
Hours before Florida voters head to the polls for the 2004 presidential primary, Wexler said the machines, which were expected to rid Florida of ballot controversies, have created new problems and violate the U.S. constitution because only some Florida counties can accurately conduct recounts.
Indian River County Supervisor of Elections Kay Clem, president of the Florida State Association of Elections Supervisors, said the paper receipts are unnecessary because the machines already can print out an audit at the end of an election day.
Klem said those who argue that the votes inside the machines can be ignored or changed through some malfunction or deliberate action are not considering the security measures already in place.
"Our machines don't have modems. They're not networked," Klem said. "Somebody would have to go into each polling place and go from machine to machine and tamper with them while the polling workers are there."
Since Florida replaced its old voting system with the new touchscreen voting machines, ballot printers have been embraced most enthusiastically by Democrats and groups still angry about 2000.
Officials hoped to avoid the problems of the last presidential election, when some voters claimed they weren't allowed to cast ballots because they were mistaken for convicted felons, were omitted from voter rolls, didn't provide identification even though it wasn't necessary or didn't understand English.
Other voters, notably in Wexler's home county of Palm Beach, said a confusing ballot design, dubbed the butterfly ballot, led them to vote for the wrong candidate.
Although the new voting machines solved many concerns, new questions arose about whether they could be trusted to tally votes without a paper record of results. Critics say the machines are susceptible to errors and fraud and that a paper trail is needed in case a re-count is required.
"We need everything and anything that will make people feel comfortable that their votes will be counted," said Palm Beach Commissioner Addie Greene.
"I don't think the public has much confidence in the system the way it is now."
Palm Beach elections supervisor Theresa LePore said the punch card machines also did not allow for a paper receipt where voters could double- check their ballots. Although she believes the printers are unnecessary, she said that if the voters and state Legislature approve them, "so be it."
LePore, Klem, and Secretary of State Glenda Hood are named in the suit.
Vote early and often... ;o)
A voting system with no paper trail is a prescription for disaster. There is no need to have elections if no one can know who people really voted for.
Did you hear this howling beast (sounded like Dean) at the Kerry rally? What a detriment to society.
This is about as lame as it is possible to get. A true Democrat. The punch card ballots are paper that you can double check!
Agreed--a paper trail is crucial. I just don't understand why the whiner didn't make this case in 2002.
Fortunately, I missed it. Must have been taking out the trash or something. I'll take your word for it though....
Yeah, but in the "even a broken clock is right once in a while" mode, he is right about paper trails. I'll go one step further and say that the paper trail generated for a specific voter should be visible to that voter before he/she leaves the polling place.
and Wexler just made national news...WHY did he wait until election day to do this?
No argument from me. With an 'honest' voting regimented system used in places like Florida, Cook County, etc. will only reduce corruption in favor of the good guys.