Clean Elections Can Only Be Good For Republicans!

4 comments February 2nd, 2007at 07:42pm Posted by Eli

From NYT, by way of cab drollery:

Gov. Charlie Crist announced plans on Thursday to abandon the touch-screen voting machines that many of Florida’s counties installed after the disputed 2000 presidential election. The state will instead adopt a system of casting paper ballots counted by scanning machines in time for the 2008 presidential election.

Voting experts said Florida’s move, coupled with new federal voting legislation expected to pass this year, could be the death knell for the paperless electronic touch-screen machines. If as expected the Florida Legislature approves the $32.5 million cost of the change, it would be the nation’s biggest repudiation yet of touch-screen voting, which was widely embraced after the 2000 recount as a state-of-the-art means of restoring confidence that every vote would count.

Several counties around the country, including Cuyahoga in Ohio and Sarasota in Florida, are moving toward exchanging touch-screen machines for ones that provide a paper trail. But Florida could become the first state that invested heavily in the recent rush to touch screens to reject them so sweepingly.

“Florida is like a synonym for election problems; it’s the Bermuda Triangle of elections,” said Warren Stewart, policy director of VoteTrust USA, a nonprofit group that says optical scanners are more reliable than touch screens. “For Florida to be clearly contemplating moving away from touch screens to the greatest extent possible is truly significant.”

Other states that rushed to buy the touch-screen machines are also abandoning them. Earlier this week, the Virginia Senate passed a bill that would phase out the machines as they wore out, and replace them with optical scanners. The Maryland legislature also seems determined to order a switch from the paperless touch screens, though it is not clear yet if it will require the use of optical scanners or just allow paper printers to be added to the touch screens.

On Monday, Representative Rush D. Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, plans to introduce a bill in Congress that would require all voting machines nationwide to produce paper records through which voters can verify that their ballots were recorded correctly. A majority of House members have endorsed the proposal, and the changes have strong support among Senate Democrats. Mr. Holt’s bill would also substantially toughen the requirements for the touch-screen machines that have printers, and experts say this could give even more impetus to the shift toward the optical scanning systems.

Mr. Crist, a Republican, at times drew whoops and applause when he announced his plan at the South County Civic Center in Palm Beach County, the epicenter of the 2000 election standoff and home of the infamous “butterfly ballot” that confused many voters. The touch screens had replaced the punch-card systems that caused widespread problems that year.

“You should, when you go vote, be able to have a record of it,” Mr. Crist told a few hundred mostly older citizens at the civic center, in Delray Beach, where many residents said they accidentally voted for Patrick J. Buchanan in 2000 instead of Al Gore because of the confusing ballot design. “That’s all we’re proposing today. It’s not very complicated; it is in fact common sense. Most importantly, it is the right thing to do.”

Mr. Crist’s renunciation of touch-screen voting one month after he replaced Jeb Bush as governor of the nation’s fourth-most-populous state, suggested that the fight for paper voting records, long a pet project of Democrats, might become more bipartisan. Mr. Crist made the announcement with Representative Robert Wexler, a Democrat from Delray Beach who has ardently led the movement for a paper trail and has attacked Republicans along the way.


Asked how he felt about discarding tens of millions of dollars worth of touch-screen machines just years after they were acquired, Mr. Crist said, “The price of freedom is not cheap. The importance of a democratic system of voting that we can trust, that we can have confidence in, is incredibly important.”

This is really great news. Florida is not just any state; along with Ohio (Governor Strickland, are you reading this?), it is a pivotal and up-for-grabs electoral state, with an ugly recent history of block-the-vote shenanigans and corrupt election officials. It will do a lot for my peace of mind to know that the votes there are being counted properly, or can at least be double-checked if there’s suspicion that they’re not.

Now if they would just give ex-cons the right to vote, or at least stop using them as an excuse to purge African-Americans from the voter rolls…

Entry Filed under: Elections,Republicans


  • 1. PoliShifter  |  February 3rd, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    I would think by now Florida is ready to turn blue.

    Considering Bush wants to scrap social security I would think the seniors would be outraged as well.

    The problem is that the Patriotic flag waiving crap still works on a certain segment of our population.

    I don’t know how Republicans get away with it, but somehow they manage to wrap themselves up in the flag, claim that only they support the troops, and simultaneously cut funding for the VA.

    Honest and open elections….isn’t that a hallmark of Democracy that Bush preaches about?

  • 2. Eli  |  February 3rd, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    I actually have a post about all the things Republicans claim to hold sacred and actually don’t value at all. Troops and democracy are both on it.

  • 3. MEC  |  February 3rd, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    “Now if they would just give ex-cons the right to vote, or at least stop using them as an excuse to purge African-Americans from the voter rolls”

    You probably know already that the laws depriving ex-cons of the right to vote were passed for the specific purpose of preventing African-Americans from voting. The other side of that coin has been arresting and convicting African Americans at a much higher rate than whites (including for things that wouldn’t get whites arrested). And if I recall correctly, in the last few years Florida has been increasing the penalties for various offenses, promoting them from misdemeanors (which don’t result in losing the right to vote) to felonies. Ain’t that peculiar? `

  • 4. Eli  |  February 3rd, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    You probably know already that the laws depriving ex-cons of the right to vote were passed for the specific purpose of preventing African-Americans from voting.

    I’m not sure if I’ve ever read that anywhere, but I’ve always just assumed it.

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