July 2004
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Day July 30, 2004

Patio drinks…

OK, sometimes this blog gets a bit serious. Not tonight. I’m kicked back at the Sambar, on the patio soaking up the gorgeous weather, and waiting for a friend to make it over the bridge. The drink is a “Jasmine” — a blend of gin, Campari, Cointreau, and lemon juice. I expect the rest of the evening to be unproductive, with any luck.

Do Florida republicans trust voting machines or not?

Florida Governor Jeb Bush has been urging people to trust the touch-screen voting machines, installed since 2002:

”They’re not new; they’ve been used already and they’ve been used correctly,” he said. “Miami-Dade County purchased these machines, there is a flaw in the auditing related to it, a minor flaw that has only occurred once. They have the obligation to fix that up and they will. I have total confidence in Miami-Dade County’s ability to carry out this election.”

The governor suggested Democrats are seeking to energize their core voters by raising questions about the accuracy of the voting machines. The Kerry campaign on Thursday said it has hired a Miami lawyer with experience from the 2000 disputed presidential election to monitor voting irregularities.

”Every time that liberal Democrats say that the election is in question, every vote should count, it is an effort to try to mobilize their base and that’s it,” Bush said. “And it should be discounted, deeply, because it is purely politics.”

Damn those liberal Democrats. We just can’t seem to discuss an issue without using it as an opportunity to “energize our base.” Unlike the Republicans, who never use public issues to whip their supporters into a frenzy…..

And we just can’t seem to get over the 2000 election, and trust that the votes this year will be fully counted and that funny business won’t occur.

Oh….wait. Neither do the Republicans in Florida, because they circulated a flier urging people to use absentee ballots instead:

The GOP urged some Miami voters to use absentee ballots because touch screens lack a paper trail and cannot “verify your vote.”

That’s the same argument Democrats have made but which Bush, his elections director and Republican legislators have repeatedly rejected.

“The liberal Democrats have already begun their attacks and the new electronic voting machines do not have a paper ballot to verify your vote in case of a recount,” says a glossy mailer, paid for by the Republican Party of Florida and prominently featuring two pictures of President Bush. “Make sure your vote counts. Order your absentee ballot today.”

What is the voter to believe? Is this an admission that neither side trusts the current generation of voting machines? Personally, I vote absentee ballot anyway, to ensure that a busy schedule or work travel doesn’t impede my ability to vote. So I’m not worried about my vote. But I work in the software industry, and knowing a bit about the internals of many software products, I think we can and should do better in designing voting machines. Diebold and others have not designed with voter confidence in mind, at least not to the degree that I’m willing to bet my country on it.

Possible early reports of Zarqawi capture in Syria

Doesn’t seem to appear in the U.S. press yet, but Al-Bawaba quotes Kuwaiti sources as saying that Zarqawi has been captured on the Syrian border with Iraq. If true, it’s obviously a terrific development given his role in fomenting chaos and internecine fighting within Iraq. Al-Jazeera has the story as well, but nobody’s sounding like the identification is yet positive.