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Lawsuit seeks to preserve digital images from paper ballots in Florida

File photo
File photo

A new lawsuit seeks to force all of the state’s election supervisors to keep digital images created from paper ballots, but some supervisors worry the coming election is already complicated enough in this age of COVID-19.

Every voting machine in Florida is already capable of capturing digital images of the paper ballot inserted by voters, but the settings make the capture optional.

“This is an important check on the paper ballots,” said State Representative Joe Geller.

Geller is one of the people suing.

“If the ballots are walk away, or for that matter, paper ballots are pretty easy to alter,” said Geller.

He points to his own county. It misplaced over 2,000 paper ballots in 2018. 

He calls the digital images a trusted backup.

“Most people want the results to be clear, understandable, and verifiable. So this is not in our opinion, it’s not partisan,” said Geller.

Images must be kept for at least 22 months, the same as paper ballots.

For counties with older machines there could be an increased cost.

Leon County Supervisor Mark Earley points out the majority of machines in Florida are older and would get slower if they have to image capture. 

“If it’s going to be slower per voter, per machine, then you need more machines to process the same number of voters. This fall given COVID and social distancing and all that, you know, we are already concerned about having lines form because we may using fewer polling places, so to me, this is a bad time for this lawsuit,” said Earley.

At least 27 counties are already keeping the images.

The lawsuit seeks an expedited hearing and a declaratory judgement in time for the August 18th primary.