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New machines, new election, & Sarasota's still can't count our votes.

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A recap of this Tuesday's election in Florida sounds eerily familiar. Sarasota can't count votes. Only this time there's paper to prove it. And this time they can't blame the voters for Florida's failed voting systems. Although the cause of this failure is different than those in 2006, as are the voting machines. The recovery is vastly different. This time instead of denying the problem exists and holding out for court fisticuffs, they scooped up our paper ballots and simply counted them by hand.

Problem solved? No. In at least three Florida counties, Election Supervisors responded to their voting machine failures with all the seriousness and responsibility of a third grader's, "The dog ate my homework [that Daddy Diebold did]."

Sarasota County's Elections Supervisor Kathy Dent said, "But we really did have all the totals last night." At least this time she couldn't deny a problem exists. Paper proof won't let her...not too easily, anyway. We're making progress.

Hillsborough County's Elections Supervisor Buddy Johnson said, "The problem was only with posting them to the public." He also said, "I don't think we failed in our job at all."

Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat said, "I think I had four precincts that didn't modem in, so we brought them in the main office. We have just worked out a solution that if they don't modem in, they put them in the car and bring them in and we upload the results here in the main office. That solves the problem." No it doesn't.

And Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning, who certified Diebold/Premier Election Solutions's failed voting machines...anyone heard from him?

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These statements demonstrate a troubling misunderstanding of the seriousness and complexities of the responsibilities entrusted to our election officials. But perhaps the most revealing and disconcerting statement came from Kathy Rogers, vice president of government affairs for Premier Election Solutions. Rogers said, "We did not prepare this county in advance." Yes, Diebold/Premier sold a product that didn't count votes in Tuesday's election. Not the first time. But Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning who tests and certifies the machines before the counties acquire them, found nothing wrong with the machines. Sarasota County's Elections Supervisor Kathy Dent found nothing wrong with the machines. Hillsborough County's Elections Supervisor Buddy Johnson found nothing wrong with the machines. Did they even turn the machines on? Or perhaps that step wasn't included in the test instructions provided by Premier.

"We did not prepare this county in advance." You may already understand why this simple comment is so disturbing. If not, please take a look at Lou Dobbs and Kitty Pilgrim's "Democracy at Risk – Outsourcing Elections" interview of Ellen Theisen. And read Ellen Theisen's report, "Vendors are Undermining the Structure of U.S. Elections." Both can be found on VotersUnite.org. Also, for troubling findings by the GAO, check my article on OpEdNews, "A closer look at the GAO's Florida District 13. No smoking gun...Not if but when and how often."

News sources referenced: "Voting problems plague Sarasota," by STACEY EIDSON, The Bradenton Herald, 08/28/08click here style="font-size: 10.5pt; font-family: Arial"> "Company Accepts Blame For Hillsborough Election Glitch," by ELLEN GEDALIUSThe Tampa Tribune, 08/28/08, http://www.sarasotaspeaks.com/node/26922
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Author of A MARGIN OF ERROR: BALLOTS OF STRAW, featured in "Small Press Bookwatch" - Politics is a tough career, with more knives in (more...)
 

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