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Florida heads into e-voting storm

No recount, despite court ruling

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Florida's election officials have been accused of taking a step back in electoral procedure after it emerged that they will not require recounts of votes cast on electronic voting machines, despite an administrative judge's ruling to the contrary on Friday last week.

Judge Susan Kirkland ruled that the normal state regulations apply to voting machines as well as paper ballots, Wired reports, and officials have yet to appeal the decision. The rules state that if an election is won by a margin of less than a quarter of one per cent of the total voter turnout, the votes must be retabulated.

Jenny Nash, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State, told Wired: "The whole reason that touch-screen machines were put into place and that some of the counties chose to use them was to avoid the problems they encountered in 2000. This is a step backward to that time."

Kirkland's announcement follows an earlier ruling from Glenda Hood, Florida's Secretary of State, that recounts of ballots cast on voting machines would be unnecessary, because the recount would not change the result.

Kirkland said that the legislature had an opportunity to clarify their position when they voted on the issue earlier this year. She wrote: "If the legislature had intended that no manual recounts be done in counties using voting systems which did not use paper ballots, it could easily have done so; it did not."

Electronic voting machines have been heavily promoted in the US as a solution to the problems officials had recounting votes after the 2000 election, but there are serious concerns over how to audit the votes, and also over the machines' reliability.

California recently recertified voting machines in 11 of the state's counties after they were modified to provide voters with a paper receipt, and in Florida, a server crash reportedly erased all records of the Miami-Dade county elections. "We will never know how good or bad the audit capability because the data is gone," Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, an attorney and chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition said at the time.

State officials have 30 days to appeal Kirkland's ruling. ®

California green lights e-voting
Server crash blitzes Florida's e-voting records
E-voting terminals: gambling with data?

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