Voting Rights Watch: Across Florida optical scanner failures are a widespread issue

Optical scan machine failures are one of the leading issues facing voters in counties across Florida, according to Election Protection. Voters have reported malfunctioning optical scan machines and massive machine breakdowns in over 35 separate precincts and 25 counties in some of the most populous counties including Orange, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, and Sarasota.

In Florida, voters fill out a paper ballot and then feed their ballots into an optical scan machine. But in several instances there have been reports of machines not reading the ballots, shredding the ballots, and just shutting down. In some precincts, due to scanner problems, poll officials have been putting ballots in lock boxes to scan at a later time. But with such large turnouts, lock boxes have been overflowing. With no plans in place to deal with unscanned ballots, some polls workers have even begun to place ballots in duffel bags and on the floor, which is not in accordance with the law, and raises issues of security for these ballots.

"Florida election officials have a responsibility to create a secure location for these overflow ballots and to guarantee that every one of them will be counted, despite machine malfunctions," said Jon Greenbaum, Director of the Voting Rights Project for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "Florida voters must not be punished for administrative election failures."