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The Sarasota Triangle: Why America Needs to Examine the Election in Florida's 13th District PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
November 12, 2006

Once Again, Election Officials Blame the Voters and Defend the Machines 


The reported results in the race to determine who will serve the citizens of Florida’s 13th District pose questions that strike at the core of debate over the merit of computerized voting systems. A recount is inevitable given Republican Vern Buchanan’s razor thin margin of 368 votes over Democrat Christine Jennings. But a ‘recount’ will not answer the serious questions that the results raise.

The exquisitely gerrymandered 13th District lies south of Tampa and is dominated by Sarasota and Manatee Counties. The media has noted the inexplicably high under vote rate in Sarasota, with most reports citing a rate of over 13%. According to the reported results over 18,362 of the Sarasotans that voted in this election were unconcerned about who would represent them in the 110th Congress.

But it’s actually much worse than most of the media is reporting. The actual under vote in the precincts is 16.17%.  The reason the media is reporting 13% is they do not know that the under votes on absentee (paper) ballots is 2.6%. The average (weighted for the greater number of precinct votes) for both absentee ballots and precinct votes is 13%. Absentee voters in Sarasota County voted on paper ballots counted by optical scanners while those who voted at early voting centers and at polling places on Election Day voted on ES&S iVotronic touchscreen voting machines.

Broward County FLORIDA: EFF Threatens Lawsuit Over Machine Failures PDF  | Print |  Email
By St. Petersberg Times   
November 07, 2006
Reported at


This just in: already a voter protection group is threatening legal action in Broward County. The Electronic Frontier Foundation says it may sue in order to keep a Deerfield Beach precinct open past 7 p.m. The foundation says problems with turning on the electronic touchscreen machines kept the precinct from opening on time. More as updates become available.

Florida: Voting Machine Frustrations in Palm Beach County PDF  | Print |  Email
By Elisa Cramer, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer   
November 07, 2006
Voting Equipment: Sequoia Edge I touchscreen voting machines

At precinct 2002 (Jeaga Middle School, West Palm Beach), shortly after 7 a.m., three voters complained voting machines repeatedly registered their votes incorrectly. When the voters selected one candidate’s name, the machines cast a check mark for another candidate, or their “yes” votes for an amendment appeared as “no” votes on the screens.

In all of those cases, a precinct worker went to the machine, explaining that the machines are “very sensitive,” and then the precinct worker had the same problem. The machines let the voters correct the names after-the-fact (on the review screen), but they weren’t able to actually vote for the candidate/issue at the time. When I voted at the same precinct shortly after 9 a.m., there were a couple of screens on which I had to press repeatedly for the check mark to appear, but I didn’t have any discrepancies.

Read the Entire Article at The Palm Beach Post
Broward County Florida: Long Lines. Machines Not Working PDF  | Print |  Email
By Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald   
November 07, 2006
Deerfield Beach voters frustrated by bad electronic ballots

Dozens of voters who came to the Deerfield Beach Tower Club Teen Center to cast their votes this morning walked away angry, as 10 of 14 voting booths failed to work -- all of them for voters in District 23A.

''I have two words for them -- paper ballots!'' said election volunteer John Miller, 78, who said he has worked at area elections the past 10 years. ``I come from New England and they're still using paper ballots. They have no problems.''

Only three people had voted when all 14 machines stopped working. After about 45 minutes, voters in Precinct 26A were able to cast ballots on four machines. But most voters, those in Precinct 23A, were out of luck until about 8:30 a.m., when technicians brought at least some machines back on line.

In the meantime, many would-be voters left, livid.

The problem, according to Broward County Supervisor of Elections technician Charles Barnes and others working there, stemmed from the thick, square piece of hardware, called a PEB, that activates each booth and must be used before each person votes.


Florida: Tale of the Tapes PDF  | Print |  Email
By Barb Shepherd, DeLand-Deltona Beacon Staff Writer   
October 06, 2006

Did your vote count in Volusia County's Sept. 5 primary election?


This article appeared in the DeLand-Deltona Beacon and is reposted with permission. 


With computers counting our ballots, and touch-screens recording votes with no ballots at all, looking closely at election records means plowing through a paper mountain of printouts, server logs and other digital data. On Sept. 21, having been told by the Elections Office it would cost $120 merely to make a small portion of these records available (with additional charges to come for copying or inspecting), The DeLand-Deltona Beacon filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court to assure all election data are made readily available to the press and the public, without undue cost. Because of the ongoing lawsuit, Volusia County Elections Supervisor Ann McFall was unable to comment directly for this story. She did, however, provide answers to some of the newspaper's questions through the county attorney's office.

An inspection of election records by The DeLand-Deltona Beacon, assisted by the Florida Fair Elections Coalition, has raised significant concerns regarding the administration of the election, and questions about the results.

Some of the problems:


• More votes than voters. According to a computer file titled "All Who Voted 09-05-06" provided by the Elections Office, 450 fewer voters cast ballots in the primary than there are votes listed on the county's official tally of the election. The computer file lists 51,242 voters; election results certified to the state list 51,692 votes. Further, the computer file lists the 180 voters whose absentee ballots were not counted, making a total 630-vote discrepancy between voters and votes.

• Zero tapes and results tapes missing. Zero and results printouts - looking very much like long grocery-store receipts - are an official record of the votes cast.

Florida: Sarasota Court Orders Election On Charter Amendment Requiring Paper Ballots PDF  | Print |  Email
By Kindra Muntz, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections   
September 14, 2006
Judge rules that County commissioners must submit amendment proposed by citizen petition to a vote

Chief Judge Robert B. Bennett, of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, State of Florida issued a final judgment on the petition for writ of mandamus by the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections that "the Board of County Commissioners of Sarasota County shall submit the proposed amendment to the Sarasota County Charter to the Sarasota County electorate in accordance with the requirements on provisions of Article VII of the Sarasota County Charter."  The amendment requires voter verified paper ballots and independent random audits of election results in Sarasota County.

This ruling in favor of the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections validates the process of proposing amendments to the charter via citizen petition. Over 14,500 voters in Sarasota County from all precincts, all demographic groups, and all political parties signed a petition for paper ballots and mandatory audits as opposed to the paperless touchscreen voting system now used in Sarasota County and 14 of the other most populous counties in Florida. This was well over the 12,030 or 5% of the registered voters needed to put the referendum on the Sarasota County ballot in November.

Rather than voting to authorize the election at their August 22nd meeting, the County Commissioners, at the advice of the County Attorney, filed a lawsuit for a declaratory judgment on the language of the petition, challenging its constitutionality.

Judge Bennett's decision validates the right of citizens to vote on the measure, and affirms the legality of much of the petition, which is the criterion for placement on the ballot. The Board of County Commissioners must respond to the judge's ruling in their meeting on September 13th. The resolution setting the election along with the ballot language must be delivered to the Supervisor of Elections by Friday, September 15th in order to print the referendum on the November 7th ballot.

Diebold “Blended System” Causes Widespread Problems in Florida Primary PDF  | Print |  Email
By Susan Pynchon, Florida Fair Elections Coalition   
September 11, 2006
“My unsolicited two cents is that this is a crazy way to run an election.  Expecting jurisdictions to train for and administer two systems is just nuts.  It is the worst of a paper-based election with the worst of an electronic election.”  Ken Clark, Diebold Senior Systems Engineer, January 2003

Confusion reigned in many Florida counties at the close of Florida’s Sept. 5 primary election, due to the misreporting, or late reporting, of election results in the 31 Florida counties with Diebold Election Systems voting equipment.  

In Volusia County, the elections office issued a report around 11 pm on election night that showed 100% of the precincts in the county had reported. However, an elections official announced to the waiting public and press that, in actuality, not all the results were in.

While disconcerting and confusing for candidates and the public, the problem is far more serious than it might first appear.

The problems experienced around the state with the Diebold “blended system” confirm what  Florida Fair Elections Coalition reported in October 2005 (See “A Crazy Way to Run an Election” ) and has been stating for over a year – that the Diebold reporting “glitch” would create a nightmare in a large election.
Florida: Voting Booth '06 Is Dark And Deep PDF  | Print |  Email
By Diane Roberts   
September 07, 2006

This article appeared in the St. Petersberg Times. It is reposted here with permission of the author.


It's not the people who vote that count, it's the people who count the votes.


That's traditionally been attributed to Josef Stalin. It's not likely he ever said it, however, what with his general hostility toward voting. It wouldn't sound all that cute in Russian, either.


But surely the sentiment has been uttered early and often here in Florida, where screwy elections have virtually become an art form. Only six years ago Florida suffered a plague of butterfly ballots, a storm of dangling and pregnant chads, monumentally messed-up voter rolls, start-and-stop-recounts, labyrinthine lawsuits and the dubious ministrations of then-secretary of state, now Senate candidate, Katherine Harris. Banana republics called Florida a "banana republic;" Fidel Castro offered to send us "democracy educators."


Now here you are in 2006, standing before the touchscreen, filling out the optical scan form, mailing your absentee ballot, are you confident that your vote will be counted accurately and fairly? Sue Cobb, the current secretary of state, would have you believe that all is well. This, despite a federal judge's ruling in the suit brought by the League of Women Voters that a state law restricting the ability of nonprofits, unions and civic groups - any except political parties, which are exempt - to register voters was unconstitutional. Still, she expects "a smooth election cycle this fall." In her television spots and public service announcements, Cobb is soothing, reassuring. She is, she says, "comfortable."


Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, on the other hand, is not. He is not worried about Leon County, which uses highly accurate optical scan machines, but has concerns about statewide voting.

Sancho tested some Diebold voting machines earlier this year and found they could be hacked: tabulators manipulated, election winners changed into vote losers without a trace of the changes to the machines' memory cards.

Florida Secretary of State Joins County In Suit Against Citizens PDF  | Print |  Email
By Kindra Muntz, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections   
September 04, 2006
Lawsuit Questioning Petition Language Could Keep Referendum Off November Ballot

Over 14,500 people from all political parties in Sarasota County, Florida submitted petitions to require voter verified paper ballots and mandatory random independent audits of election results.  The number was well over the 12,030 required to put the issue on the ballot in November to amend the County Charter.

On September 1st,  Florida Secretary of State Sue Cobb joined a lawsuit by the Board of County Commissioners to question the petition language prior to putting the measure on the ballot.  The added support from the state could bolster an effort to kill the referendum before voters have a chance to vote on whether they want verified and audited elections or not.   

Citizens are now fighting for their right to petition their government and be heard.  Thomas Shults, attorney for the nonpartisan citizens’ group Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE), filed a simultaneous suit to force the Commissioners to place the measure on the ballot as required by Sarasota County home rule charter government.  Shults will represent SAFE in the trial of the two consolidated lawsuits in Circuit Court in Sarasota County Wednesday, September 6th.

The results of these lawsuits could affect decisions on voting equipment in Sarasota County and other counties in Florida, and will show whether the voices of the citizens are being heard.
Florida: Good Thing Grades Were On Paper; Your Vote Won't Be PDF  | Print |  Email
By Glenn J. MacLean, Secretary of the Palm Beach Election Technology Advisory Committee   
September 02, 2006

This editorial appeared in The Palm Beach Post.

As the secretary of the Election Technology Advisory Committee, I regret to inform everyone that the panel failed to recommend a verifiable paper-trail system for the voters in Palm Beach County. We did identify an approved system that would do the job, one which has been approved by the state elections office. But the committee voted against this optical-scan system. The final report of the ETAC will put lipstick on the pig that is the system for electronic tabulation of votes now being used.


This result soon will be published in the final report of the ETAC, which will be signed by the chairwoman, Linda Mainard. Ms. Mainard did an admirable job in conducting what were at times unruly meetings. But the significance of this is that during the months when the committee met, the school district computer system was hacked. Ms. Mainard is the Palm Beach County School District's information technology director. One of the county's bright young 15-year-olds again hacked the school district's computers and changed grades. The great irony is that the hacker was found by comparing paper copies of grades with the grades in the electronic system. The schools had a paper trail.


Various school officials at the time made statements to the effect that where there is a will, there is a way to hack a computer system. One recommendation was even to have a hacking contest to see who could find glitches in the system, and reward the hackers rather than punish them if they did so on their own. It's a good thing no one would want to alter the outcome of a presidential campaign.

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