Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Man Who Would Not Purge 

From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (courtesy of Suburban Guerilla):
The head of Florida's elections division resigned Monday amid reports he was feeling political heat over a push to purge thousands of suspected felons from the state's voter rolls.

Ed Kast, who has worked for the state elections division for more than a decade, said only that he was resigning to "pursue other opportunities."

But Kast has told a handful of associates that he was uncomfortable with growing pressure to trim felons from voter rolls in time for the fall election, friends say.

"I've known him for 20 years, and I believe he has acted because under the circumstances it's the only thing he could do," said Leon County Election Supervisor Ion Sancho, past president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections.

"Ed had made a number of comments that the nature and timing of this felons list was not something he was responsible for. I think he felt in good conscience he could no longer be involved in the operations."

Hours earlier, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson joined a lawsuit to force state election officials to reveal the names of 47,000 suspected felons who could be dropped from voting lists, saying he wanted to be sure mistakes in 2000 are not repeated.

"This year, Ohio and Florida are looked upon as the two states that could decide the presidential election and we just can't go through this again," the Florida Democrat said.

In the 2000 election, which President Bush won after taking Florida by 537 votes over Al Gore, there were accusations that thousands were wrongly disenfranchised when the state purged the voter roles of suspected felons.
Meanwhile, People for the American Way Foundation has issued a statement urging Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood to ensure that the voters wrongly scrubbed from the rolls in 2000 have their eligibility restored before the 2004 purge gets underway.

RELATED SIDEBAR: This Intervention article on electronic voting irregulatities in Indiana has an intriguing little stinger in its tail:
When Ries, the MicroVote President, was asked how a citizen could know if his/her voted counted, he replied, “It's one of those areas of a leap of faith. You really do have to have a faith in your local jurisdiction, that they are conducting equitable elections in the best faith of the voters. The security for the voter, once again, is the acceptance of good judgment by a local board. Quite frankly, it's very difficult to convince somebody how do I know my vote counted…. There is no way to link that individual ballot back to that individual voter.”

Is it any wonder [former ES&S project manager Wendy] Orange resigned her position after she blew the whistle on ES&S when the company asked her to cover up a software problem it had? “I was faced with a moral and ethical dilemma, and I felt the only thing that I could do was come forward and tell the Marion County Clerk what had happened,” Orange continued in her interview with WISH-TV . . . .

An investigation by the Palm Beach Post revealed ES&S had a secret agreement to kick back a percentage of its profits to the Florida Association of Counties, and that the lobbyist representing both ES&S and the Florida Association of Counties was Sandra Mortham, a former Florida secretary of state and former running mate of Governor Jeb Bush.

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