Will we or won't we?
We have a new Elections supervisor named Arthur Anderson. I've blogged about him previously here.
One of Dr. Anderson's 2004 campaign pledges was to install a paper trail for when people vote every election. Now that Mr. Anderson is in office he has begun to waffle on the subject. A technology committee meeting held yesterday got Palm Beach County no closer to a decision on the subject.
I don't think the paper trail is necessary. No election system is foolproof. What we need to do is maintain credibility in the election process and make sure no fraud takes place. The notorious 2000 butterfly ballot saw no one complain till after the election. Before the election it was approved by both parties. Why didn't anyone speak up then?
Another thing about a paper trail is cost. PB County could well spend millions for technology that will soon be obsolete. We already spent millions getting touch screen voting machines in 2002. We're going to spend more? How long will this new systme last? Politicians and bureaucrats rarely look at the cost, but the public should make sure they do.
I think we should just leave things as is unless something clearly better is available.
By George Bennett
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 16, 2005
Palm Beach County voters could use something other than paperless touch-screen voting machines in 2006, elections Supervisor Arthur Anderson suggested Thursday as a voting technology committee held its inaugural meeting.
Anderson, who campaigned last year in favor of a ballot "paper trail," said there's not enough time to put a permanent system in place by next fall to replace the touch screens the county has used since 2002.
But the elections chief told the advisory panel it could consider "interim strategies" for 2006. One possibility, which Anderson said he doesn't necessarily advocate, would be to conduct the entire election by mail.
Anderson assembled the 14-member committee over the summer and told the group to make a recommendation on the best system by February. He named Linda Mainord, the chief technology officer for the Palm Beach County School District, to be its chairwoman.
Palm Beach County and most of Florida's large counties use paperless touch-screen voting machines.
Anderson last year advocated adding ballot printers to them to create a paper trail. Later, he said paper optical-scan ballots might be better. He has since said he's open to other possibilities.
Anderson's information technology director, Jeff Darter, defended electronic voting at the meeting and warned against "the issue of nebulous voter intent" that arises when voters mark paper ballots. Darter, who has worked for Anderson's two predecessors, is a non-voting committee member.
Two other panelists distributed handouts suggesting electronic systems are susceptible to errors and fraud.
Anderson urged the panel to keep an open mind and said that "it's very possible that the best voting system has not even been produced yet."