NY Times whines about conversion from touch-screen to optical scanner voting

This article makes me sick. The article is about the cost of switching from paperless touch screen to paper ballots and optical scanners:

Six counties still owe a combined $33 million on their touch-screen machines, which most bought hurriedly to comply with a new federal law banning punch-card and lever voting systems after the recount. Miami-Dade County alone must cast aside 7,200 touch-screen machines, for which it paid $24.5 million and still owes $15 million.

Most of the money for the touch screens came from the federal government, and so will most for the replacement machines, which cost about $6,000 each. But with Florida county budgets tightening due to a state mandate to cut property taxes, election officials are griping.

Hello?!? You don’t need as many optical scanners as touch-screen machines. People fill out their ballots on paper, then feed it into the scanner in five seconds, instead of standing for five minutes at the touch-screen making their decisions.

Paper ballots with optical scanners are cheaper than touch-screens. Why didn’t people complain about the cost of touch screens 6 years ago?

One other complaint with paper ballots is that the format of the ballot can be confusing:

One problem that could persist is poor ballot design, which was responsible for widespread voter confusion in Palm Beach County in 2000 and possibly for the not-recorded votes in Sarasota County last year.

But the example they give in the article refers to a flaw in a touch-screen ballot, which caused 18,000 votes not to be recorded. If there was a similar flaw in a paper ballot, at least the ballot would still be there; the other votes on the ballot could still be recorded. And everything could be hand-counted if necessary. If the computer screws up in a touch-screen system, there’s no way to recount.

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