ELECTRONIC VOTING - Mitch Perry

02/19/04

Paper Printout "extremely unlikely"

The Head of the state's election process told the Florida Legislature yesterday that it is ''extremely unlikely'' that Florida voters in November will be able to check their machine-vote ballots against a paper printout before leaving the polls.

But Secretary of State Glenda Hood insisted that voters have every reason to remain confident in electronic voting machines, despite rising worries across the nation that such machines are susceptible to computer hackers who could possibly alter the outcome of an election.

Martine Zumandis is a Computer Scientist and Co-Chair for the Education Committee in Pinellas County...She was NOT pleased to hear the news (roll tape#1 o.q. "I'd like to see that") ....Secretary Hood's comments to the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee were followed by a presentation by one of the private companies supplying touch-screen computers to Hillsbourough, pasco and Pinellas Counties, Sequoia Voting Systems.

The company brought along a prototype of a paper printout machine it is designing to be added to the touch-screen computers. Sequoia chief Tracey Graham said her company has never had its security breached, but was nonetheless designing the printout machine to address the wants of its customers.

But Graham told the Miami Herald today that the machine would NOT be ready in time for November's election, much less the August 31st Primary election....Graham said the current Sequoia machines used in Florida COULD provide a paper printout of individual votes after the election is over, which would not be seen by voters but could potentially be used in a recount.

Secretary of State Glenda Hood told The Herald that no touch-screen company has yet obtained the necessary U.S. government approval for its system to be used in an election.

Martine Zumandis says that may be true, however (roll tape#2 o.q."where is the time goint o be set")

Earlier this week the state Division of Elections said in a legal opinion that Florida's manual recount law was never meant to apply to paperless touch-screen voting systems.

In a close election, the new opinion says, counties that use touch screens are NOT required to make paper copies of electronic ballot images to try to comply with state recount laws.

.The recount question clouded a special election for a Broward-Palm Beach County state House seat and prompted a lawsuit by South Florida Congressman Robert Wexler that a circuit judge dismissed last week.

Although the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee has been holding hearings on producing a print out on electronic machines, there does NOT appear to be any consensus in Tallahassee for procuring a printout for electronic voting machines.....Martine Zumandis, who testified in front of the Ethics and Elections Committee last month, said she doesn't understand why (roll tape#3 o.q."I'm not going to accept that")

Meanwhile, yesterday a Superior Court Judge in California REJECTED a legal challenge to California's March 2nd Primary, ruling there was NOT enough evidence that the new touch-screen voting machines are vulnerable to hackers.

Calls to Sequoia's offices in Oakland were NOT returned by airtime.

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