Candice Hoke votes, but with some skepticism: “There’s truly no legitimate basis for trusting this election software when we know it is erratic, that it sometimes produces valid results and sometimes not.” Hoke, founding director of the Cleveland-based Center for Election Integrity, said a ballot count after the election is one key way to sidestep vulnerabilities in technology. But there’s a problem. Under Florida law, supervisors can audit only a tiny slice of ballots after an election – typically no more than 2 percent of precincts – and only after the winners are formally declared. “In defense of the legislature in Florida and elsewhere,” Hoke said, “they are not trained in software; they have often been told software and computers can’t make mistakes.”
In fact, Palm Beach County uses a version of an elections software system sharply criticized for a myriad of vulnerabilities by a group of California scientists who got a rare glimpse at its underpinnings. It has been linked to four local errors in four years, including double-counting more than 10,000 votes in Indian River County. But a strong audit – a hand recount of paper ballots – can foil even the most determined hacker, said 36-year computer-security veteran Richard Kemmerer, who has broken into voting equipment at the request of two secretaries of state. Equipment could be hacked, he pointed out. Paper audits can’t. “I don’t have a way around that,” he said.
In Wellington, it was an audit that found two losing candidates had been named winners. It took a judge’s ruling to straighten out the mess. That’s backward, said Dan McCrea, president of the nonprofit Florida Voters Foundation and a contributor to a national “best practices” white paper on audits. Winners should be declared only after an audit makes sure there are no problems, he said. Otherwise, ” it’s like closing the barn door after the horses have left.”
Full Article: Florida law hinders vote audits.