Thursday, November 09, 2006

Florida A National Laughing Stock - Again

Voting machines in Sarasota County, part of Katherine Harris' congressional district, appear to have malfunctioned on Election Day, sending as many as 18,382 votes into never-never land.

The error may have cost Democratic candidate Christine Jennings the election. According to Herald Tribune reporters on the scene, Bob Mahlburg and Maurice Tamman:
If the missing votes had broken for Jennings by the same percentage as the counted votes in Sarasota County, the Democrat would have won the race by about 600 votes instead of losing by 368... . Even if the undervote had been 8 percent -- more than three times what it was in Manatee [county] -- Jennings would have won by one vote.
As the Orlando Sentinel explains:
[T]he final results showed that 18,382 people either chose not to vote in the House race, were confused and missed the contest on the ballot, or were victims of a malfunction in the touch-screen-voting machines.

This so-called "undervote" raised suspicions among Democrats because it represented almost 13 percent of all people who cast ballots in Sarasota County on Tuesday.

That percentage is high by almost anyone's standards -- especially in a race in which the candidates raised $8 million to reach out to voters through TV and other advertising.

By contrast, the undervote in the U.S. Senate contest in Sarasota was only 1,600. In the governor's race, it was only 1,800.
Already, the news is sweeping the country. Once again, Florida's inability to manage the math or hold a clean election makes us a national laughing stock.

Dept. of Amplification

See also, "Damaging Democracy" (Nov. 7, 2006)

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