Skip to comments.Suit seeking electronic voting paper trail dismissed (Florida)
Posted on 10/25/2004 12:12:24 PM PDT by Michael Goldsberry
MIAMI -- The state does not need to create a paper record for touch-screen voting machines in case recounts are needed in tight races, a federal judge ruled today, upholding the state's emergency rule that set standards for e-voting recounts.
Touch-screen machines "provide sufficient safeguards" of constitutional rights by warning voters when they have not cast votes in individual races and allowing them to make a final review of their ballots, U.S. District Judge James Cohn ruled.
Rep. Robert Wexler, a Democrat, had sought either a paper record for manual recounts in close elections like the contentious 2000 presidential race or an order switching voters in 15 counties from touch-screens to optically scanned paper ballots by 2006. He wanted a way to help determine voter intent when no votes were recorded, known as "undervotes."
The judge found there was no constitutional violation in a touch-screen recount rule issued by the state Oct. 15. That rule replaced one thrown out in August by a state judge.
The current requirement is to determine "voter choice," which the state maintains is whatever is recorded on a touch-screen machine when a voter presses the final button.
Wexler said he planned an appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
Cohn, who heard three days of testimony last week, concluded that "the preferential method of casting a ballot" would include a paper printout allowing voters to make sure their selections are correct, but he said he was limited to determining "whether the current procedures and standards comport with equal protection."
Wexler called that a partial victory but said he disagrees with the judge's conclusion that the voting machines meet the requirement in state law for manual recounts.
He said he believes the judge was reluctant to make "drastic changes" in voting systems since early voting already is under way.
"Gov. (Jeb) Bush successfully ran the clock out on the ability to improve the election process for 2004," Wexler said.
Wexler's attorney, Jeff Liggio, argued the machines have no way to deal with malfunctions or distinguish between voter mistakes and intentional decisions to skip ballot items. The judge said the question of malfunctions was a state rather than a federal issue.
The office of Secretary of State Glenda Hood said the machines have a successful track record since they were introduced to the state in 2002, following the fallout from confusion over the punch-card ballots used in the last presidential election. Bush won the state by 537 votes.
"Florida voters should have complete confidence in the voter systems we're using, and for Congressman Wexler to try to erode the voter confidence or put doubt in the voter's mind does a real disservice to the voters of Florida," Hood spokeswoman Jenny Nash said.
Ron Labasky, an attorney for county election chiefs, claimed in court that Wexler was just trying to find a way to "squeeze one more vote out" and "regress" to the confusion of 2000.
Triple redundant backups of all running hard drives, and then triple DB backups of results with each DB box being in a different location AWAY from the polling place????
Paper trail is important. Both sides should be fighting for this.
i have to agree with the need for a paper trail. I work in computers and know what can be done with them. It is of course to late for this election, but I do think that retrofitting all electronic voting machines with printers is a good idea.
Even though I think a paper trail would be nice ( I am in computers or was before I retired this year and know how prone they are to crashing and leaving no evidence) the reason the Demwits want one is because they can cheat counting paper and they can't cheat counting electonic votes. They are either there or they are not. My concern is hacking....I hope that these computers are not networked...if they are not networked during the election they can't be hacked. network them after the election but keep them offline during elections.
I'm for some sort of paper trail/audit.
However, the fact that Wexler wants one, makes me change my mind.
I agree to a point, but the issue in 2K was that Rats were altering the "paper trail" after the vote. Those "undervotes" were being altered or filled out in preference of the rats in Dade, Broward and PBC. They were able to take ballots and manufacture votes to within 537 votes in 2k.
This new method effectively eliminated the ability of the rats to alter ballots after the election. That's why they are screaming. Case in point, Jeb Bush blew out his opponent in 2k. They haven't figured out how to cheat these machines yet.
This is good news.
BTW: The voter/election coordinators in these counties are pretty much all rats. Jeb aint got nuthin' to do with the screw ups.
Any time a Florida-related thread is created on FreeRepublic, please be sure to add the "Florida" keyword to it so that interested FReepers don't miss it.
Onward to victory,
A simple cheap and reliable thermal label printer could produce a paper audit trail of an entire precinct on one piece of paper. It could be in the form of a UPC code, so humans couldn't read it. A single roll of paper would eliminate the ability to insert phony records.
Remember that Wexler is the one who sent staff members to canvass for ballot problems based on one single complaint in 2000. His efforts resulted in more complaints than actual ballots cast in at least one precinct. Yet he still touted the number of complaints received as evidence of a problem, and tried to blame the Guv for a ballot created and approved by one of his Dem cronies.
It's important that humans can read the ballot, but you could computer stamp a processed ballot with a digital fingerprint. That would keep phony ballots from entering the system after polls close.
The fingerprint could include an encoded copy of the ballot entries, to prevent the ballot from being altered after the fact.
The essential feature is that the audit trail must be serialized, so phony ballots cannot be substituted or inserted. The has to be encrypted so humans can't tamper with it. The simplest solution is a single piece of paper per precinct.
Unfortunately, it's very hard to reconcile that with a requirement that it be impossible to ascertain the order in which ballots were cast.
The concept of a "paper trail" on a touch-screen voting system is ridiculous. Any freshman Computer Science student could write software for a touch-screen system that would provide one result on a paper ballot and another result on the terminal's output.
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