Some 18,000 voters failed to get credit for their votes in a hotly contested Congressional race in Florida Tuesday. There is no paper trail for most of them. The race has been “decided” by a 368 vote margin.
It’s ironic that these same voters approved a local ballot initiative to require paper trails in the future. Their iVotronic voting machines are from ES&S and similar to those used in Fayette and Clinton counties (among others) in Iowa.
Here’s an excellent account of how this is a voting machine problem, not a voter problem:
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.
Ironically, even a Sarasota County charter amendment requiring the use of a paper trail with voting machines registered an undervote of only 8,885. The amendment passed.
Not every part of the Congressional District lies in Sarasota. Other parts of the district have scanned paper ballots. They didn’t have very many undervotes by their citizens. The Miami Herald reports:
The House District 13 undervote rate was more than 10 times higher than the two elections that bookended it: the governor’s race and the U.S. Senate race Harris lost. The undervotes in Sarasota also stick out next to those from comparable Manatee County, where the no-vote rate was about 3 percent. Manatee uses fill-in-the-blank, optical-scan machines, as does Sarasota for absentee voters.
In a classic BLAME THE VICTUM response, a state official said,
“There is a bit of voter responsibility when you’re casting your ballot.”
‘’You can’t really get in the minds of the voter,'’ Nash said, noting people decide not to cast ballots out of protest or because they just wanted to sign in on Election Day to preserve a good voting record.
The local officials are no more sympathetic:
“We did a good election,” said Kathy Dent, Sarasota County’s top election official.
More irony: This is the House seat being vacated by Katherine Harris, Secretary of State during the 2000 partial recount of the Presidential race. No recount is possible this time, so no problem, I guess.