Friday, February 02, 2007

A paper trail in Florida

NYT - Florida Shifting to Voting System With Paper Trail
Gov. Charlie Crist announced plans on Thursday to abandon the touch-screen voting machines that many of Florida’s counties installed after the disputed 2000 presidential election. The state will instead adopt a system of casting paper ballots counted by scanning machines in time for the 2008 presidential election.
I'm glad to hear it. The system that they had in 2000 was inexcusable, but going from hanging chads to paperless touch-screens was a step too far in my opinion. Technology is a good thing, but it can never be trusted completely with something so important as vote counts. There needs to be some paper involved. And this is not just my opinion.
Election experts estimate that paperless electronic machines were used by about 30 percent of voters nationwide in 2006. But their reliability has increasingly come under scrutiny, as has the difficulty of doing recounts without a paper trail. Federal technology experts concluded late last year that paperless touch-screen machines could not be secured from tampering.
As I was reading the article, I knew the issue of the price of the endeavor would come up eventually, and it did. I was very happy with the response because it was exactly what I was thinking.
Asked how he felt about discarding tens of millions of dollars worth of touch-screen machines just years after they were acquired, Mr. Crist said, “The price of freedom is not cheap. The importance of a democratic system of voting that we can trust, that we can have confidence in, is incredibly important.”
Hopefully Florida will be on track for a smooth election in 2008, but adjusting to new technology just before a big election is probably going to cause some confusion. Let's just hope they get it all done in time.

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