|Protesters gather outside elections office to demand ‘ballot accountability’|
|Published Thursday, July 15, 2004|
by Dale M. King
|Dale M. King/Staff Photo Protest signs abounded at Tuesday’s “vote accountability” rally.|
Tempers flared in the hot sun outside the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections’ office Tuesday as demonstrators demanded “voter accountability” in upcoming elections.
To the people standing in near-100 degree temperatures in the parking lot of the complex on Military Trail in West Palm Beach, that means a “paper trail” for touch-screen voting machines, and an independent audit to make sure the machines are tabulating properly.
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The Palm Beach County gathering was part of a national “The Computer Ate My Ballot” day of action. Several groups, among them, the Palm Beach Coalition for Election Reform, showed up to “call attention to the need for a voter verifiable paper trail” as well as the audit, said Susan Van Houten, a coalition organizer.
Protesters carried a variety of signs demanding “vote accountability.”
The demonstration also drew several politicians, among them, Jeff Fisher, who is running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Mark Foley and incumbent state Rep. Susan Bucher.
“The only paper trail we have is to vote by mail,” Bucher said, shouting into a microphone leading to a hand-held amplifier. “I will work hard to get this message out. They are not going to steal this election.”
In South County, U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler has been leading that charge to get a paper ballot trail on Election Day. He has filed suit in state and federal court in an effort to show that touch-screen ballot machines cannot be used for recounts because they do not provide paper receipts.
Bucher picked up on the theme, saying, “They are breaking the law and violating your rights.”
Inside the election office, Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore commented on the ruckus outside. She said a paper trail and an independent audit are the responsibility of the secretary of state. Wexler is actually suing LePore and Secretary of State Glenda Hood to get the paper ballot receipts.
As to the touch-screen voting machines, she said, “We have tested them and they work well. We used them during the 2002 election cycle and lots of municipalities used them.”
She attributed the demonstration to “a lot of gloom and doom and misinformation that may keep people away from the polls.”
“We are confident the machines will operate,” she said. But anyone who wants to use an absentee ballot should “make sure they follow the instructions.”
Ballots can be obtained by calling her office at 561-656-6200.