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Florida: study shows optical scan voting machines have lower error rate than touch-screens

The Sun-Sentinel reports: Florida's touch-screen voting machines performed better in the Nov. 2 presidential election than they did in the March primary, but were still outmatched by older voting devices that use pencil and paper ballots, according to a South Florida Sun-Sentinel analysis.

Voters using the ATM-style voting machines in November were 50 percent more likely to cast a flawed ballot or have an unregistered vote in the presidential race, compared to voting machines employing simple paper ballots. ...

Fifteen of Florida's 67 counties use touch-screen voting machines, including Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade. The pros and cons of the newer technology have been debated around the country, with the secretary of state in Ohio this week announcing touch-screen machines would no longer be used in elections. ...

While optical-scan machines once again seemed to outperform touch screens in November, both obtained an error rate of less than .5 percent. In the 2000 presidential election, the undervote rate in Florida counties using punch cards was 1.5 percent; the rate for optical-scan counties was 0.3 percent, according to a University of Florida study. -- Touch screens more likely to be flawed, analysis finds: South Florida Sun-Sentinel


I speak as a precinct election judge with twelve years experience. In my part of the world, Tom Green County, Texas, we use op scan ballots. I have personal experience with two recounts in local elections, and I thank God every time that we do have that type ballot. The ballot is its own paper trail, no chads, and I have no idea how I would be expected to determine the party affiliation of an electron, assuming we could track it down. It is really rare that a counting table cannot agree on the intent of the voter even when they do fail to exactly follow the simple instructions.

HAVA scares me, in that by insisting that every precinct have at least one electronic station, supposedly for the handicapped, some authorities will be inclined to decide if we have to buy the network anyway just go 100% machine. I reject the handicapped arguement. We have always provided at least one booth at table top level for the wheelchair bound, we are allowed to provide curbside voting at the voter's car, not to mention mail ballots and two weeks of ADA compliant early voting. Sorry guys, I do not trust online computer voting, and so far the evidence gives me good grounds for that distrust.