Monitoring Haiti, Then Florida

Florida, where ballot-counting can be a life-altering experience, experienced few problems during yesterday’s primary, reports the Associated Press’ Jill Barton. The state’s new touch-screen voting machines performed well everywhere but tiny Bay County; a recount is scheduled there.

The state installed $35 million in new equipment to prevent a replay of the infamous 2000 vote in the Sunshine State, with its butterfly ballots and hanging, dimpled and pregnant chads — and ongoing disputes over who actually won. Critics of the electronic system argued that the machines could be subject to tampering and, because they offer no paper trail, fraud could go undetected.

Although the primary voting went smoothly, some folks aren’t taking any chances come November. Earlier this week, members of the Catholic peace movement Pax Christi announced that the group will dispatch an international team of monitors to patrol Florida on November 2, just as it has previously to such hot spots as Haiti and, soon, El Salvador. The goal, said the group, is to ensure “an election atmosphere that is transparent, open, honest and free of controversy.” Oh, sure, that’s easy in Haiti — but Florida?

Good luck, guys.


Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.