Monday, May 07, 2007

Florida to ditch electronic voting kiosks

Just three months after Florida Governor Charlie Crist suggested that maybe these newfangled e-voting kiosks weren't such a great idea, 15 counties, including the voting-challenged Broward and Miami-Dade, will get rid of their marginally useful electronic voting machines instead of widely tested optical voting machines that are used by most of the rest of the state, as noted by this article in the New York Times. The move will not only silence critics (like myself) who thought that the kiosks were error prone and easy to sabotage, but will also introduce a much-needed paper trail while making the overall voting process much more simple. The article notes:

The move is the nation’s biggest repudiation of touch-screen voting, which was embraced after the 2000 recount as a way to restore confidence that every vote would count. But the reliability of touch-screen machines has increasingly come under scrutiny, as has the difficulty of doing recounts without a paper trail.

“This legislation will preserve the integrity of Florida’s elections and protect every Floridian’s right to have his or her vote counted,” Gov. Charlie Crist said in a statement. “Florida voters will be able to have more confidence in the voting process and the reliability of Florida’s elections.”

With optical scanning, voters mark paper ballots that are counted by scanning machines, leaving a paper trail that remains available for recounts.

The 15 counties that will move to the optical scanning, which is in place in the state’s other 52 counties, account for about 51 percent of the state’s 10.4 million registered voters. They include Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Hillsborough Counties.

The plan, part of a bill that moves the state’s presidential primary to Jan. 29, was announced by Governor Crist in February. The Florida Senate voted for it last week, and the House of Representatives approved it unanimously on Thursday.

Honestly, people down here had a hard time punching a hole in a piece of paper, and the government's solution was to make them use a computer. I never understood how they came to that conclusion in the first place, but I'm certainly glad that they've decided to revert to a much more straightforward and highly-tested methodology.

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