Why I Love Paper Ballots

I know that people love to critique the fact that I, for some reason, don’t quite get the memo on the perils of electronic voting and the beauty of paper ballots.  If I mention Florida 2000, I get the response “but those were punch cards” even though the number of uncountable optical scan ballots in the state was many times more than the difference in the election.

Fortunately, Florida is a gift that keeps on giving. This is from the Palm Beach Post (I italicized key words that made me laugh):

Teams of Palm Beach County workers this morning began counting thousands of ballots in hopes of accounting for all 102,523 that officials believe were cast in last week’s election.

(“In hopes of?”  “Believe were cast?”  How could this be?)

Shortly after midnight, county election staffers said they had found 2,700 of the 3,478 ballots that somehow disappeared between the Aug. 26 primary and a weekend recount.

(Note here, they THINK they found the ballots.  They found pieces of paper; they can not know they are ballots cast in the election!  Also, note that the total number of still missing ballots is HIGHER than the difference in the Bush-Gore election.)

A weekend recount of the race threw the entire election into turmoil when officials discovered that they could only account for 99,045 of the 102,523 ballots that were cast. When the two-day recount ended at 1 a.m. Sunday, the exhausted board declared Wennet the winner by 60 votes. The veteran jurist went into the recount trailing by 17 votes.

So where were the missing ballots?  It isn’t really clear from this description, especially since they are still missing a lot of ballots:

Jeff Darter, technology manager for the elections office, said the missing ballots were found by comparing precinct-by-precinct totals on election day with those after the recount. When the discrepancies were found, workers counted the ballots stored in individual bins for each of the county’s roughly 780 precincts.  By midnight, the process yielded 2,700 ballots that hadn’t been recorded during the recount, he said. By early morning, however, canvassing board members agreed they needed a more formal count. Two-member teams are to go through each bin. Each person is to count every ballot. When their counts agree, they will write down the count, initial it and move onto the next bin.

Now here is the part where you think, duh!  Note that they don’t seem to audit their paper ballots on election day very well.  My question regarding Browning’s description is this:  shouldn’t they have as many ballots as they have voters checking in to vote?

Browning, a former Pasco Count elections supervisor, said he wasn’t totally satisfied with the system the canvassing board used. He suggested elections workers check the numbers on the machines to see how many people voted on election day and recount absentee and early vote totals to get a benchmark of how many ballots were cast.