Florida lawmakers want to expand the use of digital voting and tallying machines. Many of the state’s election managers are behind the plan. But critics don’t want to leave the paper ballot behind. … Leon County Elections Supervisor Mark Earley supports the bill. He says digital recounts would be more effective and efficient. “We would’ve not only been able to find the paper very quickly because of the digital ballot sorting that is inherent in this audit system, the great power of it, it’s very visual and transparent. We could’ve seen the problem ballots, assessed the images. And if the county commission or canvasing board so desired, they could have immediately said, ‘Let’s go see these 60 ballots or these 38 ballots’ or whatever it was that were in dispute, and we could’ve pulled the paper very easily out of the box,”Earley said.
For all those having nightmares of digital votes being illegible, or even erased, Earley says the hard copy, paper ballots aren’t going anywhere. “The paper’s still there. I’m never going to want to get rid of the paper. This gives us a better way to find the paper, the problem paper. That’s, to me, what it’s all about. The way to find those needles in a haystack,” Earley said.
But that’s not enough for French Brown, who represents Verified Voting, a nonprofit elections watchdog.
“The language in section one of the bill broadly redefines the term ballot to include any voter interface used indirectly to designate the elector’s ballot selection onto a sheet of paper,” Brown said. “Verified Voting has concerns that allowing the full electorate to use these machines could negatively impact voter confidence and voting accuracy.”