Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Dirty Election in Florida

Slate explains why we should never move to Florida if we want our vote to count:
For one, Hood and Jeb Bush have strongly endorsed the state's Republican-controlled legislature's new rule that outlaws manual recounts. This means that if any of the new optical-scan or touch-screen machines fail—as they did in the 2002 elections; and the recent March primaries; and just last week, when a backup system failed in a test run in Miami-Dade—there will be no recourse for counting votes. A coalition of election-reform groups has challenged this rule, and Rep. Robert Wexler of Palm Beach sued in federal court after a state appeals court dismissed the matter, ruling that while the right to vote is guaranteed, a perfect voting system is not.

Unlike the recent elections in Venezuela, where the new touch-screen voting machine provided every voter with a receipt, Floridians will have to take the word of Hood and Bush that their vote was counted.

About the only thing that could restore confidence in Florida electoral procedures would be Hood's immediate resignation; her successor should then be chosen by a bipartisan commission. And as Gov. Bush cannot possibly be an impartial observer in his brother's quest for another term, he should recuse himself from every aspect involving the vote count in Florida. He also needs to flex his power with his famously compliant Legislature to repeal the new laws eliminating manual recounts and witnessed absentee ballots. In addition, all felons who have repaid their debt to society, following completion of their sentences, should have their voting rights restored.

If these changes are not made, Florida cannot conduct a credible election come November.


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