Sunday, December 10, 2006

FL-13 DEBACLE

The 13th Congressional District of Florida is currently held by outgoing Representative Katharine Harris. Republican Vern Buchanan has been declared the winner over Democrat Christine Jennings by a margin of 369 votes after a mandatory recount. Political Insider has great information and background on this.

This recount consisted of counting the absentee and challenged ballots again as well as adding up the tapes from the electronic voting machines. The real issue at hand in this election is 18,000 "undervotes" in Sarasota County in the Congressional race. This means that 18,000 people cast ballots that did not register a vote for a candidate in the Congressional race. This is far outside of any reasonably expected undervote. But, because of the electronic voting machines, there is no paper trail to properly investigate why this has happened.

There are reports that initial testing on the machines, by conducting a mock election, have shown some of the same problems found in the actual election. This alone should cause enough concern for a re-vote.

Christine Jennings has contested the election in court. Should the courts fail to order a re-vote, which means a new election open only to those who voted on November 7, then Jennings should appeal to the U.S. House of Representatives to decide the election. By any statistical analysis, Jennings should have won the election in FL-13. There is precedent for the House deciding contested races.

Further, this adds to a mounting body of evidence, giving us credible reason to doubt the dependability of electronic voting. Our desire for instant results has replaced the necessity for integrity in the process and is a significant threat to the nature of elections in the United States. This must be addressed. Soon.

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