Deja Vu in Florida
The New York Times | Editorial
Sunday 26 November 2006
One of the great hazards of the way electronic voting has been introduced in the United States is that it could end up undermining democracy by producing unreliable election results that cannot be truly audited or corrected. This month, that nightmare became a reality. Voting machines in a Congressional race in Florida - where else? - may have swallowed about 18,000 votes, far more than the nominal winner's razor-thin margin of victory. Because those votes were in the loser's strongest county, if there was a computer glitch it probably changed the outcome of the race.
Vern Buchanan, the Republican candidate in Florida's 13th Congressional District, was certified the winner, with 369 more votes than the Democrat, Christine Jennings. But voting machines in Sarasota County produced about 18,000 "undervotes," ballots on which the voter made other choices, but did not vote in the Congressional race.
If the machines are to be believed - a big if - an extraordinary 14.9 percent of Sarasota County voters using the machines decided to skip the Congressional race, a highly publicized contest that voters knew could help decide which party controlled the House of Representatives. Among the absentee ballots, which were cast on paper, the undervotes were a more plausible 2.5 percent.