TOUCHSCREEN VOTING MACHINES - Beth Wolfe

02/13/04

According to the Associated Press, the Florida Department of State has notified election supervisors that ballots from touchscreen voting machines do not have to be included during manual recounts because, according to the Department of state, there is no question about how voters intended to vote.

In a letter to Kurt Browning, Pasco County Supervisor or Elections, the director of the Florida Division of Elections, Ed Kast concluded, that not only is there no need to include the electronically cast ballots in manual recounts, but county supervisors of elections don’t even have the authority to perform that task.

Browning joined other election supervisors who use touchscreen voting machines in their counties, in requesting the opinion from the state. With high profile elections just around the bend, election officials want to make sure that they are aware of state law and how to perform in the event of a manual recount. Reached for comment, Browning explained what exactly he asked the state and what he was told.

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Direct Recording Electronics or DRE’s as the touchscreen voting machines are sometimes referred to, have the ability to produce a written record of every ballot cast, but only after the fact and only by authorized personnel. Manual recounts deal primarily with overvotes and undervotes, and attempt to determine voter intent in order to be able to count the vote rather than disqualify the ballot. Browning describes what is different about touchscreen ballots.

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But browning said, there are requirements for electronic ballots –

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The Department of State’s opinion was issued the day after a Palm Beach County judge threw out a lawsuit filed by Democratic US rep Robert Wexler that sought to require electronic voting machines to produce a paper record of ballots cast. Browning who said he does not support the idea of a voter verifiable paper record, talked about the two very different issues.

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Amid all the opinions flying back and forth, Florida Secretary of state Glenda Hood has emphasized that the machines are reliable and accurate and cannot be tampered.

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