Friday, August 27, 2004

Florida Judge: Machines Must Allow Manual Recounts 

Dept. of Freaky Fridays: how often do we get the chance to post two unambiguously gratifying stories in a row? From the AP wire:
A state rule barring the 15 Florida counties that use touchscreens from doing manual recounts is at odds with state law, which requires hand recounts in certain close elections, an administrative law judge ruled Friday.

A coalition including a labor union, government watchdogs and other interest groups sued the state arguing the law requires provisions for hand recounts in every county, no matter what voting technology is used.

Administrative Law Judge Susan B. Kirkland agreed, writing that state law clearly contemplates "that manual recounts will be done on each certified voting system, including the touchscreen voting systems."

With a primary election Tuesday and more than half the state's voters in counties that use touchscreens, it's not clear what each of those counties will do.

Secretary of State Glenda Hood issued the ruling preventing manual recounts in touchscreen counties in April. She could appeal Kirkland's decision, which would automatically keep the rule in place for now. A spokeswoman for Hood said late Friday that she was considering that option.

Elections supervisors in some of the 15 counties with touchscreens had asked the state what they should do about a law requiring manual recounts when elections are particularly close, because the machines the counties use aren't programmed to create a paper record of each vote.

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