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Touch-screen voting machines pass test
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, Oct. 15

WEST PALM BEACH — This time Palm Beach County's voting machines aced the makeup test.

That was a good thing for outgoing Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore.

Four lawyers from the Kerry-Edwards campaign, two Republican lawyers, a pair of youthful Nader backers, cameras, reporters and producers from MSNBC, the Christian Broadcasting Network, a Japanese network, three local television stations, two local newspaper reporters and photographers and assorted freelancers all appeared to watch the required "logic and accuracy" test of the touch screen voting machines Friday.

And supervisor of elections-elect Arthur Anderson showed up as well. He takes over in January.

The scrutiny is a bit intimidating, LePore told an MSNBC camera. "To me it seems like they're all waiting for us to fail," she said.

The test, originally scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed because, as LePore explained, a file server that tabulates the votes from the voting machine cartridges went off line several hours before the test. "It had nothing to do with the voting machines," she said.

It's as if the students could take the test but there was no one to grade the papers. Backup servers will be available on election day, Nov. 2, LePore said.

"Palm Beach County is being held to a much higher standard than anywhere else in the United States," she said.

Election workers publicly tested the state-required 2 percent — 89 — of the 4,270 machines that will be spread across more than 600 precincts Nov. 2. Simulated votes were fed into each machine and some voting was done manually as well.

"There's certainly a lot of beeping," said a Kerry lawyer.

The machine results were tabulated, then compared with the predetermined outcome. LePore said workers also test the remaining machines over several weeks.

"I'm glad this was just a test run. All of the judges were not retained," joked Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Barry Cohen, a member of the canvassing board, as he examined the vote totals.

West Palm Beach lawyer and Kerry supporter John Whittles said he preferred a printed verification for each voter. "You'd always like the most documentation possible. But that's not the system we have. My job is to be watching and make sure every vote counts," he said.

Anderson, who defeated LePore in the Aug. 31 elections supervisor race, said the test should be expanded to include actual voting situations in which the public tries out the machines.

He said he will lobby for verifiable paper ballot receipts. "There's no way of really validating a person's vote," Anderson said. "We could possibly have votes floating out in cyberspace."

LePore said her office will be ready for Nov. 2, despite two hurricanes and 14 lost working days. The touch screen voting system has been well-tested through more than 100 elections of various kinds.

"Every time, the doom and gloomers say everything will fall apart," she said. "It didn't happen."

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