Dear Governor-elect Crist,
First of all I want to congratulate you on your victory in yesterday’s election. Your win was the silver lining that was yesterday’s Florida Republican electoral cloud. But I am writing to give you a piece of unsolicited advice. If there’s one issue that you should make your top priority, if there’s one issue that Floridians can get behind regardless of color, creed, or party affiliation, it’s electoral reform.
I know what you’re thinking:”Hey we just had a great election.” But don’t kid yourself, Florida’s electoral system is ripe for the rigging. Somehow your predecessor allowed the state to be duped into an electronic voting system that provides ZERO paper back-up. You don’t have to be a Mensa Club member to realize how dangerous this situation is.
As friend of mine told me on the phone yesterday: “Once you press that vote button, the screen goes blank and your vote is out there in the ether.” As you know Florida was at the epicenter of the electoral controversy in 2000. While the old punchcard system had its flaws, it was at least possible to have recount and check and re-check the results in way that was visible and transparent for all to see. Today we have no such mechanisms.
So Mr. Crist, here’s a humble suggestion from one concerned Floridian: Sponsor an initiative to have a ZERO DEFECT ELECTION in 2008. Here’s some ideas to get you started.
• Ensure that every voting machine is fitted with a printer so that every voter will print his/her selections and deposit them in a traditional ballot box. This will make spot checks and recounts possible.
• Create the position of state-wide supervisor of elections to which all county supervisors of elections must be accountable.
• All supervisors of elections should be responsible for having every precinct opened on-time with adequate equipment to avoid long lines.
While these and other measures may be expensive, I would argue that nothing, not education spending, not highway construction, not property taxes or insurance, is more important than our basic right to have free, fair and TRANSPARENT elections. Our ability to tackle those problems comes only from the confidence we get from knowing that our leaders are accountable to us.