Unsolicited advice to Charlie Crist

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.

Most sincerely,

Henry Gomez

9 thoughts on “Unsolicited advice to Charlie Crist”

  1. I second these suggestions. Florida should be at the forefront of national election reform precisely becauseof 2000. While I trust the current technology, I’d add one additional item to your list: election procedures, set at the state level, that all counties must follow in order to have a vote certified.

  2. I agree on the paper backup. These folks rushed to get the electronic machines. I think the optical scanners/bubble the blanks would have been the best system.

    All I know is that yesterday was my second election as a poll watcher for RPOF and unlike some instances of shanigans by non attorneys for Kerry in 2004, I’ve not seen any real problems. The precincts I’ve been to in Miami Gardens, and north through Aventura and NMB, have been operated in accordance to law. Only once did I have to challenge a vote yesterday cause someone admitted to us that she did not live in that precinct and only wanted to vote there cause it was closer. We told her to go to the precint 9 minutes away. When I started to challenege which would have required her to sign under oath an affirmation that she lived there when she did not, she decided to go vote in her correct precinct.

    Unlike the crap from the NYT’s and others, there was no problem whatsoever with the ID requirements. In the precinct I was in, which was very poor and senior citizens, everyone had 1 picture ID and another form of ID with a signature. Only guy who got screwed was one guy who the DOE wrongfully said he was registered in Tampa. He was going to walk away, and though probably a dem, I told him to vote provisional and send the DOE by Friday his FPL bills and phone records showing he lived in the district.

    Unlike what the radical left says, we do not suppress the vote…we only want to make sure the law is followed. Heck, even the dem poll watcher had no choice but to agree with me on the challenge.

    But I have no doubt that the election results in FLA are accurate.

  3. Mike,

    I can appreciate the orderly way in which the polls operated, but that’s not really what concerns me. It’s the potential for fraud with the machines that scares me. Fraud that you would never see as a poll observer.

    Eduardo, that’s the point of the post. It’s something that should be a no-brainer for Crist. As Floridians let’s put the pressure on the Governor and the legislature to do whatever it takes and spend whatever is required for these types of electoral reforms to be implemented.

  4. Paper backup- making spotchecks and recounts possible? Depositing of ballots in a traditional ballot box? We had that when we had punchcards!

  5. Yes Omar, the punchcards did have those features but they also had problems. Besides hanging chads and so forth, there was a lot of chances for voter error. If you didn’t slide card all the way down or if the arrows didn’t align with the right holes. Also the counting of the punchcards was slower. With the touch screens the counting can be lightning fast. We’d only need to use the paper records to double check after the fact.

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