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Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines

by TChris

Paper ballots that can be counted by an optical scanner are easy to use and they leave a verifiable paper trail that enhances voter confidence in the legitimacy of an election result. Miami-Dade County will become the first venue to replace controversial touch-screen machines with optical scanners if the county's election supervisor gets his way.

Elections supervisor Lester Sola said in a memo Friday that the county should switch to optical scanners that use paper ballots, based on declining voter confidence in the paperless touch-screen machines and quadrupled election day labor costs.

The county paid $24.5 million for the touch-screen machines, and would need to spend another ten or twelve million to replace them. The initial decision to buy the touch-screen machines is regrettable, but nothing is so important in a democracy as a fair election. Miami-Dade, like every other jurisdiction using machines that can't produce paper evidence that each vote was counted correctly, should spend the money to replace the machines. It's an investment in democracy.

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    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:25 PM EST
    Two glaring things wrong with this rosy plan: 1) ITTS (It's the TABULATORS, stupid). Since the optical scan totals are tabulated in computers, those computers are where most of the fraud occurs. 2) Recount? What Recount? We paid $120,000 for the recount of Ohio, WHERE BUSH LOST. And we got -- bupkis. As long as SecStates are political EMPLOYEES of the vote-fraud companies, having a paper trail is USELESS. What we have come down to is that the United States, at large, needs a one-time PAPER BALLOT COUNTED IN PUBLIC BY HUMAN BEINGS plebicite, nationwide. The entire government will have to be revoted, since the evidence is glaringly-obvious that the voting system has been rigged for FIVE YEARS. NO MACHINES, OF ANY KIND. And any SecState who wants to run a campaign-- FIRED for cause.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:25 PM EST
    Will never happen anywhere where actual votes will make any kind of difference., Paul. While I agree with you in principle, if I were going to expect that, I would also look to do away with the electoral college and pretty much eliminate our present districting system. I'm not convinced that the majority of American's vote isn't largely symbolic at this point. Our Sort-of-Republic, Sort-of-Ocracy is just that - sort of representative of the will of the people. Its pretty hard to ensure that the majority party, especially a majority party representing a coaliton of people that favor exclusionary ideology, will ever take into consideration the wishes of the *out of power* party. At least in a two party system - ah, there's the key thing that should change. But Moving from Diebold back to (or for the first time to) optical scan is a step in the right direction.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:25 PM EST
    Tampa, you're just spreading cynicism with your leaf-blower. Some of the biggest vote fraud in 2004 came from optical scanners in Florida. Look it up. As for the electoral college, that isn't really the problem. The problem is that we lack an affirmative right to vote for President, something that JJJr.'s 28th Amendment proposal would fix. If you are a student, you probably don't remember Watergate. You may not be aware of the many 'national reconciliation' governments in world history, after coups. Whether or not we can get a one-time paper ballot counted in public by people, the point is that that idea appeals to a LOT of people, and is in direct contest to Diebold over their 'right' to screw us in the dark. Why don't you get on the real caravan of change, and stop barking at the electoral college/two party Moon? There is a reason why there are basically NO third party people in our system. We do not have a parliament, by design. What is absent from our system is sufficient people taking active part in pushing the parties in the right direction. It isn't a perfect system, and I support instant-runoff voting at the state level, but the federal system is not so broken -- this is a COUP, which can happen in ANY system of government.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#7)
    by pigwiggle on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:25 PM EST
    TS- You complain about the power of the majority and in the same breath advocate killing the EC. Dude, the EC is what gives small states big power; we need less federal more republic. Should we dismantle the senate also? Sheesh.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#8)
    by Lora on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:25 PM EST
    Count the paper. I'd advocate two counts, one by machine and one by hand, with different people in charge of each count. In each precinct, the totals by machine (any machine) and by paper would have to match. US Count Votes recommends a 3% audit of each and every election. If a full paper count is not achievable, this possibly would be, and could work if done correctly, with full transparency and citizen oversight. There is no excuse not to have totals for each voting machine and totals for each precinct. This would eliminate the problem of fraud by hacking the central tabulators, because it would eliminate them, wouldn't it?

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#1)
    by BigTex on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:26 PM EST
    Finally. Someone is actually talking since in elections. It's very hard to mess up optical scan. Just like a scan-tron test in public school. Most everyone knows how to use the ballot, and you have the paper trail. It should be mandated that optical scan is the way to go.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:26 PM EST
    For once, I agree with Tex.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:26 PM EST
    about time we did something right here in florida.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:26 PM EST
    First of all, there is no paper in 30 states. The Diebold receipt plan is to provide a roll of receipts for each machine, which would allow identifying voters and what they voted for. Proper machine produced receipts would be randomized into a big bin. But the point is that as long as SecStates are electioneering, you can FORGET legal elections. Our problem is the direct result of disenfranchizement by those SecStates and the electronic vote-fraud companies, in collusion. It is certainly not just an issue of which machine is used. We need that 28th Amendment, which would establish our RIGHT to a recount, to a direct vote for president, and to SUE FOR OUR VOTING RIGHTS if they are violated. We need to go state-by-state and remove or vote out SecStates who sully their office by electioneering. And we need to drive Diebold and the others OUT OF BUSINESS, probably by boycotting banks which buy their equipment. In California, we will be taking mass action at the Sacto hearing with Diebold in mid-June. We have thousands of activists hot on this issue, and we have the supposed paper receipts coming (back) in 2006 by statute -- but the people who sold us out are still trying to retain their unfair, illegal, anti-democratic cheat system.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:26 PM EST
    Tampa, you're just spreading cynicism with your leaf-blower. LMAO. That really is rich. As if there were anything we could be positive about given this regime. We need a multi-party system to break the Corporate power in D.C. It won't happen, but our culture needs it. Incidentally, I broke with principle and voted for someone who vowed to "kill 'em deader" in '04. Something I shouldn't have done. Dude, the EC is what gives small states big power; we need less federal more republic. Should we dismantle the senate also? Sheesh. No, we don't need more Republic. We don't need to further tear our culture into disjointed isolated pockets of angst towards one another, marked by geopolitical lines. We need less redundant government so as to rob us blind in taxes for no result. Don't put words in my mouth either, I didn't say that we should Federalize our entire nation, nor did I say we should do away with our Senate - your words. I laugh at the notion of marginal tax rates being lowered while property taxes and sales taxes keep the relatively poor from owning anything - that's here in our "ownership society". Our county and city governments encourage sprawl, gentrification, and over construction for the benefit of the few. We need to "dismantle" gerrymandered districts, classist/racist zoning laws, rework public school districting/money falling into administrative black holes, and many of the other layers of class/racial oppression that nobody ever bothers to examine - often times out of willful ignorance. Go look up a former/current city planning official and discover a whole world of mundane details that grossly affect our society. Rail against government. Take up for a corrupt two party Corporate-owned system. Corporate power is no less oppressive - it just allows some people to fall in love with their causes while living comfortably off the backs of the disenfranchised. ...and don't call me "dude".

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#11)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:26 PM EST
    PIL writes - "We need to go state-by-state and remove or vote out SecStates who sully their office by electioneering." So, would you appoint them? If so, by who and how long a term would they serve? You have also made comments about statistics. One specific question that has been raised was that some areas have a huge Demo registeration edge, but voted Repub by a large percent. The cause of this is that in many areas, particularly in northern FL the local politicians are almost 100% Demo. So the local voters register Demo, and vote Demo on local matters, and then vote Repub on the national level.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#12)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:26 PM EST
    A well controlled random handcount of paper ballots in random precincts to check the optical machine counts would increase my confidence in election outcomes. Watching the recount here in WA State has made me aware that the error rate in actual paper recounts may be higher than the error count in optical scanner. Checks and balances is what we need. Efficiency and cost savings are also good. So, I am ok with optical scanners with an automatic random hand recount of randomly chosen precincts. That means we can't let the Diebold programmers set up the random number generator that determines the "random" precincts where hand recount checks occur. The old folded pieces of paper in a hat looks like the way to go to me. Maybe let 6th graders handle the part of choosing the random precincts as part of a civics class. I trust average 6th graders a lot more than I trust most election officials.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:26 PM EST
    Oh, and dump the electoral college. Make a vote in Nebraska as important as a vote in New Yord as important as a vote in Florida. Let's go with straight popular vote on national office. That would put an end to elections being swung by any particular state and its Attorney General.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#14)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:26 PM EST
    "Tampa, you're just spreading cynicism with your leaf-blower. "LMAO. That really is rich. ...It won't happen, but our culture needs it." So, in favor of things which won't happen, you spread cynicism. What is the point? "Incidentally, I broke with principle and voted for someone who vowed to "kill 'em deader" in '04. Something I shouldn't have done." Incidently, John Kerry did no such thing. And he was elected by a considerable majority in fact, if not in Diebolded election numbers. You go ahead and drive your third party car off the cliff of purity, while the rest of us will continue to fight for a restoration of democracy, not a redesign that will never occur. As for Atty Gen'ls, there is nothing inadequate about barring them from electioneering. It should be a non-partisan job, or someone else should have final say on elections.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#15)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:27 PM EST
    PIL - Okay, but how can you have an election if you can't tell the people who is running? Who will select them to be on the ballot? I mean I know these are just details, but...

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#16)
    by pigwiggle on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:27 PM EST
    ďNo, we don't need more Republic. We don't need to further tear our culture into disjointed isolated pockets of angst towards one another, marked by geopolitical lines.Ē Homogeneity sucks. We do need pockets of disparate ideology. Small local government is more responsive and certainly (or perhaps because) it is more easily held responsible; one vote on the state level means a hell of a lot more than in federal elections (in terms of clout, but sadly not consequence). If I donít like a local government and the local majority I can simply move to a new state. It is a great deal harder to move to a new country. Power does the least harm when it is decentralized, non-concentrated. You **** about the state of the country, the country being run by the ill-mannered mouth breathing halfwit majority, and offer a federal solution? Dude?

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#17)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:27 PM EST
    So, in favor of things which won't happen, you spread cynicism. What is the point? The point is that Democrats have sold out the progressive wing of the party to Corporate interests. OUR representatives voted for this war. OUR representatives voted for symbolic tax cuts for the wealthy. OUR representatives refuse to obstruct the policies that are allowing increasingly blatant propaganda to reach the ears of our children. Not just the Republicans, "OUR" Democrats. When the party I support leaves me to embrace murder for profit, I will most certainly object - and will happily disregard any need for social affirmation from anyone, on the right or the "left". John Kerry most definitely adjusted his rhetoric to include "killing terrorists" to "enhance our freedom". Don't be a revisionist. "...the rest of us will continue to fight for a restoration of democracy, not a redesign that will never occur." Learn to better differentiate your values from the nebulous idea of "the rest of us" and see the world in less of a zero-sum manner. Do you not believe that at least a large percentage of Americans believed there was a need for this war. Save some of your disgust for America's pre-disposal to buy into Neocon Conservatism, not just Bush himself. My "point" is that change starts in our individual values, not in our embrace of particular sides of the fiction and half-truths handed to us by the media and dishonest politicians. You call it cynicism, I call it critical reasoning.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#18)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:27 PM EST
    You **** about the state of the country Last I checked, you do this as well. Miami-Dade voted sometime ago to combine their city and county governments. They do have a problem with corrupt politicians, granted. The move saves their citizens from paying double taxes for unnecessary duplicated public services. A derivative of that model combined with the other changes I detailed above would improve our quality of life. I said nothing of Federalization, but I do support Federal funding and Federal oversight for Federal elections. I've always referred to you as PW, I'll thank you to return in kind - especially since you have no idea who you're talking with.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#19)
    by pigwiggle on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:27 PM EST
    TS- ďLast I checked, you do this as well.Ē And how, but my solution isnít more of the SOS, or slightly different $hit anyway. What do you think federal elections would look like if the federal government were given the mandate to regulate them (perhaps they can, broaden that interstate commerce clause just a bit more)? It would be uniform, ill conceived, and certainly biased to favor the folks in power. We neednít speculate about this, consider federal matching funds. My (presidential) vote went to a man who wasnít even able to take advantage of the money taken right from my paycheck. In effect I was forced to contribute to the campaign of the folks who needed it the least, and certainly whom I supported the least.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#20)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:27 PM EST
    TS writes - "Miami-Dade voted sometime ago to combine their city and county governments.... A derivative of that model combined with the other changes I detailed above would improve our quality of life. I said nothing of Federalization.." Uh, TS. You just defined it.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#21)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:28 PM EST
    And how, but my solution isnít more of the SOS, or slightly different $hit anyway. No, I'll give you that PW. Your "Milton Friedman-esque" solution is to turn America in to an Aristocracy of wealth and privilege. It hasn't been tried in at least a century. It would be uniform, ill conceived, and certainly biased to favor the folks in power. As it stands today, yes, federal matching funds prevents third party candidates from participating. Obviously, that status quo isn't what I was referring to. It is time for a constitutional right to vote with uniform election standards. Election day should be a national holiday so that all of those service employees slaving away would have a greater opportunity to vote. Naturally, I'd further be in favor of some minimal affirmative voting rights for those that Southern Conservative jerks still to this day try to disenfranchise. An audit trail should exist that isn't held in the hands of some ridiculous Corporate power that claims "Proprietary Technology" when it comes time to review the process. Attorney Generals who have obvious partisan conflicts of interest cannot be trusted with final authority, that authority should be spread across a committee. A constitutional right to vote, PW, is NOT the same old stuff - it hasn't been "tried" because States want to retain their right to exclude people from participating. Uh, TS. You just defined it. PPJ, if you believe that Miami-Dade's County Government is the same exact thing as our Federal Government making civic decisions in Miami, then perhaps this discussion is too advanced for you.

    Re: Miami-Dade May Replace Voting Machines (none / 0) (#22)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:28 PM EST
    Clarification...Federal Matching Funds are unavailable to third party candidates that don't qualify. All of which is a moot point anyway; without access to an unbiased media, third party's ideologies are distorted to the point that the pittance of funding that is available couldn't overcome the the cost necessary to reach millions of Americans nor overcome the money spent to discredit them.