Florida’s Voting Machines, some answers

Yesterday I posted about Florida’s new voting systems and the scarcity of information about how they work. I decided to get the information right from the source and emailed the Supervisor of Elections in Miami-Dade County, Lester Sola. I asked him why the tutorial on how to vote that is posted on the County Elections web site is for the touch-screen system which is being discarded. the His reply is below:

We have this tutorial on our site because touch screen voting will continue until July 1, 2008.
We will post Optical Scan Voting tutorials when they have been finalized. The state of Florida Division of Elections has not approved for use the software that our Optical Scanners will be using yet.

So there you have it. We’re stuck with the “no paper trail” system through June.
Here’s a video from Connecticut that shows how to use optical scan ballots. I don’t expect Florida’s will be too different.

Please note that there’s already a bunch of cranks out there saying this system can be hacked. For example a genius leaves this comment at Youtube:

Vote for canidate A B or C and get a card saying to voted for A, B, C but the computer still reports your vote as D, you just thing it was legit because a card says so, there is no accountability!!!!

You could say that about any voting system. Of course there is accountability. For one thing the paper record of each voter’s selections will remain. A candidate who suspects foul play can get a manual recount. A massive fraud would mean that even a small percentage of the precincts results would not match what the computer said.
The point is you can never fully eliminate the possibility of fraud but you can reduce it greatly. And judging from everything I’ve seen, this optical scanning is much better than our current paperless touch screens which should have never been bought in the first place.

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