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e-Voting: Florida as the next Florida

Dave Farber's IP list points to a New York Times article that contains disturbing news about recent elections in Florida, things I had not heard:

In a January election in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, the victory margin was 12 votes, but the machines recorded more than 130 blank ballots. It is simply not believable that 130 people showed up to cast a nonvote, in an election with only one race on the ballot. The runner-up wanted a recount, but since the machines do not produce a paper record, there was nothing to recount.

In 2002, in the primary race for governor between Janet Reno and Bill McBride, electronic voting problems were so widespread they cast doubt on the outcome. Many Miami-Dade County votes were not counted on election night because machines were shut down improperly. One precinct with over 1,000 eligible voters recorded no votes, despite a 33 percent turnout statewide. Election workers spent days hunting for lost votes, while Floridians waited, in an uncomfortable replay of 2000, to see whether Mr. McBride's victory margin, which had dwindled to less than 10,000, would hold up.

This past Tuesday, even though turnout was minimal, there were problems. Voters were wrongly given computer cards that let them vote only on local issues, not in the presidential primary. Machines did not work. And there were, no doubt, other mishaps that did not come to light because of the stunning lack of transparency around voting in the state. When a Times editorial writer dropped in on one Palm Beach precinct where there were reports of malfunctioning machines, county officials called the police to remove him.

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