Will My Vote Count?

I live in the ur-swing state. I'd like my vote to count. I'll be voting on an electronic voting machine with no paper trail. I don't trust it. Not at all. (Here's one more reason I don't trust the machines in use in my precinct.)

The most amazing thing about this to me as a person clinging to an increasingly sorely tested belief in the rule of law, is that the plain, plain, plain meaning of the relevant florida statute says that a machine with no backup records is illegal. Florida law demands the ability to do recounts in close elections. This theory is about to be tested in court — at last.

Here's part of the Herald's story.

Florida's election system, ridiculed and maligned during the 2000 presidential election and then rebuilt with new technology, was thrown into chaos again Monday with five weeks to go before Election Day.

A federal appeals court in Atlanta reversed a lower-court judge and ordered him to hear a lawsuit that demands voters be given paper receipts when they use touch-screen voting machines so there is a paper trail in a close election.

The court's decision is vindication for U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, the Palm Beach County Democrat who filed the lawsuit, and a potential nightmare for election officials in the 15 counties that use the ATM-style equipment, including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

It also throws an unwelcome light once again on Florida, which was assailed Monday by former President Jimmy Carter, who said a repetition of problems from 2000 “seems likely in Florida.''

Regardless of whether Wexler wins his lawsuit in court, state officials said Monday that they will now draw up an emergency rule requiring touch-screen counties to do manual recounts in close elections — a startling turnaround, because the state fought for months to bar such recounts.

(emphasis added) Problem: how do you do a manual recount where there's no record???

Critics of touch-screen technology are alarmed that there may be no way to know if a machine malfunctioned during a close election.

State law requires recounts when elections are decided by a razor-thin margin. If the difference in vote totals between candidates after the first automatic recount is less than one-quarter of 1 percent, election officials are required to do a manual, or hand, recount of all overvotes and undervotes. Overvotes are votes for more than one candidate in a race; undervotes are no votes at all in a particular race.

But the state elections division has argued that manual recounts aren't needed for touch-screen machines because they are incapable of recording overvotes. State officials even issued a rule prohibiting counties from doing manual recounts — a rule the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups successfully challenged in court last month.

The law suit raises that issue, but I can't imagine how some new rule relying on this technology can address it.

A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Glenda Hood called the ruling ''procedural'' but acknowledged that the state now plans a new rule in time for the Nov. 2 elections spelling out how to do manual recounts in touch-screen counties. How recounts would be done hasn't been decided, spokeswoman Jenny Nash said.

She said state officials were interested in doing what “we feel will best serve Florida. We are concerned with finality and not continued litigation.''

But the state's solution does not at this time include paper receipts, because Florida hasn't certified any printers that can legally be used with touch-screen machines.

And I predict there is no way it can in time for the election. Unless they scrap the machines, which is pretty unlikely.

This entry was posted in Florida, Politics: US: 2004 Election. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Will My Vote Count?

  1. My theory is they’re going to perpetrate a great big whammy, and suggest that manually recounting the touchscreen machine’s own printout qualifies…

  2. nigel says:

    You know what? I don’t even think you believe that.

  3. Michael says:

    Actually, I have to say that this was the first thing I thought too, because I can’t imagine any other way they could do it…..

  4. Bricklayer says:

    My biggest concern is that many voters are “social” Kerry supporters, but in the privacy of the voting booth they’re really going for Bush. What with most hollywood celebs in favor of Kerry, being pro-Kerry or anti-Bush is a very trendy way to appear at cocktail parties. I’m not saying there’s no substance to that position, I just have a gut feeling that a lot of people aren’t being honest about who they’re really going to vote for. I didn’t get that vibe 4 years ago.

    So if I’m right, exit polls will overstate Kerry’s vote relative to the machines and chaos will result, even though the machines were accurate.

  5. Jean says:

    ABSENTEE BALLOT. I voted in the primary with an absentee ballot, of which I made a copy, and I will vote in November with an absentee ballot as well.
    LaPore is the lame duck election supervisor here in Palm Beach, and I don’t trust her for a second. Lawyers for Kerry are organizing, and I hope there will be some hawk eyes on this election.

  6. Jean says:

    ABSENTEE BALLOT. I voted in the primary with an absentee ballot, of which I made a copy, and I will vote in November with an absentee ballot as well.
    LaPore is the lame duck election supervisor here in Palm Beach, and I don’t trust her for a second. Lawyers for Kerry are organizing, and I hope there will be some hawk eyes on this election.

  7. Brett Bellmore says:

    Just out of curiosity, how does it benefit you to make a copy of your absentee ballot? When the ballot is counted, it is stripped of anything that might link it back to you, after all, so even if elections officials wanted to, they could never compare your copy to the ballot you cast.

  8. Dave says:

    The solution is simple – Everybodies DNA is unique. If everybody truly wants a solution – to know how the counting occurs than submit to being tagged like a cow. Otherwise stop complaining about the counting. The electorial college chooses the president and whether you want it to be so or not – they do not have to vote on the most popular vote for the state (very few states have laws to this fact). Therefor, tagging is the only true solution (especially with a control group as large as ours) – and whether most of you like it or not – a cell phones are a tagging device most of you have agreed on. One more step – and it will assist in reducing crime as well – allowing for DNA to match criminals more easily as well. But of course – laws must be changed to make your vote actually decide if the elector must vote to majority.

    But nobody truly wants to address the hard questions… because our national IQ level is only 98 – just 13 above retard. So why should a nation choose their president? The perfect method of control is the perception of choice.

    For people who want to understand the process – in layman terms: http://www.learnnc.org/learnnc/lessonp.nsf/docunid/7B7A254E241F9C5185256E44004ABEA5/$file/electoralcollege.html

Comments are closed.