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Around the States

Florida: New Voting Machines - Paper Trail to Nowhere? PDF  | Print |  Email
By Jim Stratton, Sentinel Staff Writer   
August 01, 2008
After Sarasota's 2006 voting debacle, which featured huge undervotes and bitter accusations of technical failures, the state outlawed touch-screen voting. That made optical-scan systems the election technology of choice in Florida.

The move was hailed by reformers, who said the hard-copy ballots of optical systems provided a crucial backstop -- a paper trail -- if the results of an election were decided by just a few votes.

"What we're talking about here is democracy, and it is precious," Gov. Charlie Crist said when he proposed the 2007 overhaul. "You should, when you go vote, be able to have a record of it."

But it hasn't worked out that way.

When legislators passed the new law, they made no provision for a full hand recount, rendering the paper trail of optical-scan systems virtually useless. The law requires that only ballots with too many or too few marks -- so-called overvotes and undervotes -- be reviewed by hand. The rest won't be checked.

"By law, humans can't look at that paper record," said Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho. "The system is sort of bass-ackwards."

Read the Entire Article at the Orlando Sun Sentinel.

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