Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Florida - the bad TV movie
If you live in a sit com never utter the words, "well, at least it's not raining," because as soon as the last syllable leaves your lips, thunder rumbles and the big fat drops start to fall from the sky. The words, "what else can go wrong?" often have the same effect on the weather. If you find yourself living in a "Law and Order" episode and can't get a break in the vexing case your working on, stand by the phone and tell your chief about it. The phone will always ring with the most unexpected development in the case you were just talking to the chief about.

Suppose you find yourself playing the governor in a made for TV movie, a black comedy about elections. In this plot, your state has had unending problems trying to hold a simple election. Stand next to a telephone while holding your press conference to announce your complete confidence in the new election system you just spent millions on. In TV land, what happens next?
Some states, worried about the potential for abuse with voting machines that leave no paper trail, have banned their use this November. But Florida, which may well decide the presidential race, is not among those states, and last month state officials rejected a request to allow independent audits of the machines' integrity. A spokesman for Gov. Jeb Bush accused those seeking audits of trying to "undermine voters' confidence," and declared, "The governor has every confidence in the Department of State and the Division of Elections."

Ring. Ring. It's for you Mr. Governor.
A computer crash erased detailed records from Miami-Dade County's first widespread use of touchscreen voting machines, raising again the specter of election troubles in Florida, where the new technology was supposed to put an end to such problems.


The malfunction was made public after the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, a citizen's group, requested all data from the 2002 gubernatorial primary between Democratic candidates Janet Reno and Bill McBride.


The loss of data underscores problems with the touchscreen voting machines, the citizen's group said. "This is a disaster waiting to happen," said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition. "Of course it's worrisome."

Jeb would be funny if this wasn't an election we're talking about.

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