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Around the States

Florida: Wexler Urges Secretary of State To Implement Paper Trail PDF Print Email
By Warren Stewart   
March 01, 2006

Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL, pictured at right) sent the following letter to Florida's Secretary of State Sue Cobb urging her to move expeditiously on implementing a paper trail. On Friday, February 17, Secretary Cobb spoke in support of a uniform standard for paper ballots, but said the power to require a paper trail rests in the hands of the legislature. While Wexler applauds Secretary Cobb's supportive comments, he does not agree with her assessment on how to proceed. The Florida legislature has spoken on this issue, requiring a manual recount in the event of a close election. Wexler believes that Florida's election law is quite clear and now the onus is Secretary Cobb to work with the 67 counties to ensure compliance. Currently, 52 counties in Florida use optical scan machines that allow for a manual recount, while the other 15 counties use touch-screen voting machines that have a paperless system that cannot be recounted. In addition, Wexler is requesting that Secretary Cobb look into allegations made by Black Box Voting last week regarding the 2004 Presidential election results in Palm Beach County. Black Box Voting founder Bev Harris said computers logged about 100,000 errors, including memory failure. Wexler is concerned that without a paper trail it is impossible to ensure that every vote is counted as fairly and accurately as possible.

Over the past 3 years, Wexler has been fighting for a paper trail in Florida. On December 7, Wexler appeared before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that Florida is currently not in compliance with the Bush v. Gore standard and the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Appeals Court has not yet issued an opinion on Wexler's lawsuit.

February 28, 2006

Sue Cobb Secretary of State Florida Department of State R. A. Gray Building
500 S. Bronough Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250

Dear Secretary Cobb:

I would like to applaud you for your recent statements in support of a uniform paper trail for voters throughout the state. I sincerely appreciate your constructive approach in addressing this vital issue. Particularly in light of last week's report compiled by the voter advocacy group Black Box Voting that approximately 100,000 errors were recorded in the paperless DRE machine in Palm Beach County for the November 2004 elections, I am sure we can agree that the need for a uniform voting system in Florida is of the utmost urgency. Without some form of independent verification of voter intent, it is impossible to determine whether those machine errors had an effect on the recorded vote in any given race.

While I applaud your responsiveness to the growing concerns about the paperless voting systems, I disagree with your assessment that the power to require a paper trail rests in the hands of the legislature. The legislature has already spoken on this issue, requiring a manual recount in the event of a close election. Florida's election law is clear on this issue; the onus is now on your administration to work with the 67 counties to ensure compliance.

If you believe that clarifying language would assist you in this process, I stand ready to work with your office and the Florida legislature. I do not believe, however, that these changes should be used to delay the important work that needs to be done to bring a paper ballot to the 15 counties without the ability to conduct a true manual recount. As you know, the Divisions of Elections in your office is in the process of certifying a printer attachment for some of the DRE machines already in use in many Florida counties. I hope your office will move expeditiously forward with this process.

Thank you again for your supportive comments endorsing a paper trail for all Florida's voters.

With warm regards,

Robert Wexler
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