Paper Trail

A group of concerned citizens is demanding the state come up with a paper trail to make sure every vote counts in November.

They delivered 20,000 signed petitions calling for a backup plan for all electronic voting machines to the secretary of state's office, but Secretary of State Glenda Hood is trying to reassure voters that the new machines work just fine.

A group calling itself “the computer ate my vote” carried 20,000 signed petitions into the secretary of state's office. They’re demanding the state come up with a paper backup system for its controversial touch screen voting machines.

Ross Burnaman added his signature to the protest effort. He's angry a task force's recommendations to use a paper ballot optical scan system statewide were ignored.

Ross says, “Ashamed is what I am. I think it's inexcusable that our governor and our secretary of state have stood by idly after the debacle of the last election and have ignored the recommendation.”

An analysis of under votes cast in the spring primary shows touch screen systems are up to eight times as likely not to record a vote as optical scan equipment. Leon County Election Supervisor Ion Sancho says faulty touch screen machines could wipe out up to 35,000 votes this fall.

“I wish that the state had done a much better job of looking out for the interest of the citizens after the fiasco of 2000,” says Sancho.

But Secretary of State Glenda Hood says a massive voter education campaign will help ensure people know how to use the equipment by election day.

“There's also poll workers at the polling places. If anybody that goes in to vote has a question they can ask the poll worker or a staff person how to operate the equipment,” Hood says.

You do have an alternative if you don't understand or just don't trust the new voting equipment. You can get an absentee or mail-in ballot, fill it out and return it to your elections office. Supervisors expect the mail-in ballots to be very popular this year.

Secretary of State Glenda Hood says the touch screen voting systems used in 15 Florida counties are the most sophisticated voting equipment available today. She says touch screen machines don't need paper receipts to be audited in the event of a recount.