Thursday, November 02, 2006

Voting machine fraud in Florida and Texas

The Miami Herald and KFDM-TV (channel 6 in Beaumont, Texas) have reported this week that voting machines being used for early voting have been systematically switching voters' selections from Democratic candidates to Republican candidates. The Miami Herald report focused on Broward County (Fort Lauderdale, FL), and the KFDM report on Jefferson County (Nederland, TX). In Texas, some voters who pressed the "straight Democratic ticket" button were recorded as having voted the straight Republican ticket, and problems were also reported on votes cast for individual candidates. In Florida, votes for Democratic candidate Jim Davis were switched to the Republican Charlie Crist.

In all the cases reported so far, the voters were able to go back and change the incorrect votes before finalizing their ballots, but in one case it took three more tries. More worrisome is that many voters will give only a cursory glance at the confirmation screen, so the switch of their votes will go unnoticed. Worse yet, Broward County has no procedure to track problems with voting machines, either in early voting or on Election Day.

Whether these errors resulted from intentional fraud or from innocent glitches, they undermine confidence in the integrity of our democratic process. We need not just a voter-verified paper trail, but also a far more rigorous system of audits, before and after the election, to ensure that none of the machines has been compromised. We need to have verifiable, honest tallies in all elections.

A tip of the hat to MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann for bringing these stories to light.

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