Voting machines have history of malfunctions

Published: Tuesday, January 3, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 2, 2006 at 10:54 p.m.

In two elections in Florida last year, optical scan machines behaved in a manner so bizarre that this was noticed and the count redone. In the presidential preferential election in Bay County, Richard Gephardt, who had withdrawn from the race six weeks previously, had a 2-1 lead over John Kerry; a hand count showed he had 9 votes.

In November in Broward County, absentee ballots for certain referenda were observed counting backwards; the outcome of one statewide referendum was changed by the resulting recount. If these absurdities had not occurred, the errors would have never been noticed and no one knows how many incorrect election results have been accepted only because they were plausible. The machines that erroneously counted had been tested "thoroughly" in the opinions of their overseeing Supervisors of Elections.

Therefore, when a local precinct clerk writes that "Every scanner is programmed, tested for accuracy by the election board" (as did Ray Bender on December 27), this does nothing to assure me that Alachua County's voting machines are free from errors.

If testing does not catch defective or sloppy engineering, then why, pray tell, would anyone think it would catch intentional errors which would be by design difficult to catch? It is high time that elections officials get their heads out of the sand and stop playing "hear no evil" with the sanctity of America's elections.

Vincent J. Lipsio,


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