Republican Gov. Jeb Bush has tried for months to persuade Florida voters touch-screen voting machines are reliable. His own party apparently hasn’t gotten the message.
The state GOP paid for a flier critical of the new technology and sent it to some voters in South Florida, where a primary election is scheduled next month.
“The new electronic voting machines do not have a paper ballot to verify your vote in case of a recount,” the message states. “Make sure your vote counts. Order your absentee ballot today.”
That’s what Democrats and a coalition of civil rights groups have been saying in legal challenges, trying to force the state to provide a paper trail in case the machines malfunction.
“It is insulting that the leadership’s own party would believe that the system is broke,” said Sharon Lettman-Pacheco, spokeswoman for People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group based in Washington.
The machines are being used in 15 of Florida’s largest counties.
The governor, unaware of the mailing, wasn’t happy.
“I think he was disappointed that there would be any message that’s out there that criticizes these machines,” Bush spokeswoman Jill Bratina said.
Neither was President Bush, whose picture was featured on the GOP flier. “We did not authorize the use of the president’s image,” said campaign spokesman Reed Dickens. “It was inappropriate.”
Earlier this week, state election officials reported that a computer crash erased detailed records from Miami-Dade County’s first widespread use of the touch-screen machines in the 2002 gubernatorial primary and other elections.
Florida’s system has been under scrutiny since 2000, when it took legal action and recounts before Republican George W. Bush was declared president over Democrat Al Gore.