Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Voting and Elections

Yesterday was election day in communities all across the state. Given that Florida has a storied history with regards to elections, let's look at how things stand:

A couple glitches

Orlando Sentinel - Memory card containing results of Volusia County early voting results erased.

Herald-Tribune - Sarasota County notes some voting glitches


Herald Tribune - Voting audits can't vary, court says

A county charter amendment that many credit for helping phase out touch-screen voting machines statewide is unconstitutional, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The decision will not affect the type of voting machines used in Sarasota County because the state has since passed a law prohibiting touch-screen voting machines. But the decision will reduce how much auditing of election results the county will have to do after each election.

The court ruled that counties cannot have different auditing standards than the state. The county charter amendment required an audit of 5 percent of all precincts after an election. The state law requires 1 percent.

Herald Tribune - Demand better voting audit system

To have the security of honest election results, we must have a meaningful manual audit. Then, if the tallies are wrong, we can immediately check to see why and how the machines erred.

The current law calls for an audit, only after the election results are announced, of 1 percent of the precincts and in only one randomly chosen race. The delay allows more time for ballots to be mishandled and machine software to be altered.

Paper ballots are a good start, but without proper auditing provisions in place there's no way to ensure the results are tabulated correctly. Contact your state legislators and demand they support stricter auditing provisions.

New Voting Machines

Sun-Sentinel - Experts say PBC voting machines must be upgraded soon

Like computers and other electronic devices that are outdated soon after their purchase, voting equipment in Palm Beach County apparently doesn't have a long shelf life either.

Voting machine executives told county commissioners today that there's no way the county can avoid making costly technology upgrades over the next five years and beyond.

Questions about Changes to Florida's Voting Laws

News-Press - Fla. asked to detail balloting procedures

The U.S. Justice Department has asked state election officials to provide detailed information about efforts to curb fraudulent voting, from policing voter registration drives to requiring photo IDs at the polls.

Pending that review, the federal agency is withholding approval of a handful of voting laws passed this spring, saying it needs more information to assure the changes don't discriminate against minorities.

Miami-Herald - Feds question fairness of state's new voting law

An Oct. 29 letter from the Department of Justice says the agency needs more information to decide the impact the changes will have on minority voters.

"Our analysis also indicates that the information is insufficient to enable us to determine that the proposed changes . . . do not have the purpose and will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color or membership in a language minority group," wrote John Tanner, chief of the voting section of the Civil Rights Division.

The questionable provisions involve changes to voter ID requirements and new requirements on organizations that register voters that were passed as part of CS/HB 537 the same bill that gave us paper ballots.