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Verifiable Voting in Martin County

Dave Dew, Chair Martin County Democrats

Martin Democrats and Congressman Tim Mahoney Help Secure Verifiable Voting for Martin County

It has been over six months since Supervisor of Elections Vicki Davis called me and asked me to arrange a meeting with Congressman-Elect Tim Mahoney. At the time she had analyzed the touchscreen equipment that was used in the 2006 election and she had concluded that but for the fact that there were three candidates running in the 16th District race that awful result of the 13th District (Sarasota) race could have happened here. She concluded correctly that the ES&S touchscreen machines were ultimately at fault. The question, how to get proper machines in place before the 2008 primary?

The Congressman arrived in the early evening two days later. He conferred with Vicki into the late evening and reviewed the operation of the equipment and he too concluded that the ES&S touchscreens were virtually useless when it came to validating any vote. Tim's degree is in computer sciences so he is a qualified expert in the field. The problem remained, how do we get the $1 Million to replace the existing equipment? Facing budget cuts, the County could not afford to replace the machines. The answer was to draw money from the HAVA act which was being held in reserve with the approval of the State and Federal Government. The Federal Congressman was fully behind the program so it remained for the State to buy into the concept.

Shortly after that meeting, our new governor Charlie Crist gave the nod to replacing all the touchscreens in Florida where needed with an expenditure of $32 Million. All he needed was the approval of the House and Senate and the backing of the County Supervisors of Elections Association. He got the backing he needed and for our part Vicki Davis and I both wrote to the various Senators, Representatives and Alex Sink who holds the state checkbook. Today the bill passed the State House and Senate and it is headed for certain signature by Crist.

The point of this story is that it took a Republican SOE and Democratic Congressman and the support of the Martin County DEC to get the results that this county needs. We will soon be replacing the "terrible touchscreens" at the precinct level with "scanners" that will finally give us a paper trail to offer the voter a great degree of certainty that their precious vote will be counted. The new equipment has been ordered and will be here for the presidential primary.

Dave Dew, Chair