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I have to comment on this story in USA Today.

Some Fla. election electronic records lost
MIAMI (AP) — A computer crash erased detailed records from Miami-Dade County’s first widespread use of touchscreen voting machines, raising again the specter of elections troubles in Florida, where the new technology was supposed to put an end to such problems.

The crashes occurred in May and November of 2003, erasing information from the September 2002 gubernatorial primaries and other elections, elections officials said Tuesday.

The malfunction was made public after the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, a citizen’s group, requested all data from the 2002 gubernatorial primary between Democratic candidates Janet Reno and Bill McBride.

In December, officials began backing up the data daily, to help avoid similar data wipeouts in the future, said Seth Kaplan, spokesman for the county’s elections supervisor, Constance Kaplan.

The loss of data underscores problems with the touchscreen voting machines, the citizen’s group said. “This is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition. “Of course it’s worrisome.”

The group is concerned about the machines’ effectiveness, following revelations about other problems with the system. Last month, state officials said the touchscreen systems used by 11 counties had a bug that would make a manual recount impossible.

So, Florida started using touch-screen voting machines as far back as November 2002. In May, 2003, and November, 2003, there were apparently “crashes” that somehow erased data from a bunch of elections, including the 2002 gubernatorial primary. In December, 2003, after the second of these “crashes,” somebody finally decided it might be a good idea to back the data up, just in case.

There is so much wrong with this picture.

First of all, who the hell was the Project Manager who apparently never thought of backing up what can only be considered mission critical data?

Who would build a voting machine that didn’t allow for an audit trail or a recount? Or, if the machine didn’t allow for it, why isn’t it part of a system that does?

Of course, given the recent history of elections in Florida, maybe that was the intent.

I don’t agree with the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition that the machines are to be blamed for the loss of data or the lack of a paper trail. I blame those who built them and those who installed them. Anybody who builds a voting machine that does not allow for the possibility of a recount is either very stupid or very naive. Ditto anyone who doesn’t allow for data backup.

If I were interested in moving to Florida, I might be tempted to hit the state officials with a proposition for a disaster recovery contract. It looks like they could use it.

Or maybe we should just cede Florida to Cuba, and Jeb along with it.



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