Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Monroe County Voting

In Florida, elections and voting are conducted at a County level. You register to vote with the County Supervisor of Elections for the County where you live, and that registration is valid for any election held within the state and within your city of residence.

We were registered to vote during our previous residence here, and I've re-registered already. Janet will do so before the next deadline, so we'll vote in the County primaries in September and the County and national elections in November.

When I registered, I asked the current County Supervisor of Elections, Harry Sawyer, if the County has upgraded, or was intending to do so, to the touch-screen voting machines that seem to be all the rage now. The County, thankfully, has not, and does not intend to change over. The method used here is the tried-and-true optical-scan paper ballot system that provides both an indication of erroneous voting, e.g., over-voting, and the all-important paper trail that is vital to being able to audit an election after it is over.

I've been interested in the topic of voting machines since first coming across the investigations of Bev Harris, a writer who has developed a reputation as an objective researcher, backed up by independent investigations of others with the technical ability to validate or refute the reliability of electronic voting. Bev's web site, Black Box Voting, has a track record of uncovering dark tales of money changing hands freely to influence the selection of one voting system or another, and of possible manipulation of elections.

I am prompted to write this entry today having seen the headline "Activist" eVoting to be a train wreck", and reading the AP article connected to it.

I'm familiar enough with computers, and with election processes (I was a town Supervisor of Elections in New Hampshire for 12 years and participated in choosing the automated system used in my town, an early punched card system, complete with dimples and hanging chads), that I would not trust any system that doesn't produce an auditable paper trail, one that includes a physical receipt to the voter that the vote was for whom they intended, and to the municipality to allow for a physical recount.

Kudos to Harry Sqawyer and the County Commission for not succumbing to the pressure to inappropriately automate a process that is central to to our liberty. Read the AP article and visit the Black Box site. You'll see what I mean.

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