Friday, November 24, 2006

Vote Counting

Florida still has a problem counting votes, and provides the best argument for requiring a paper trail to electronic voting machines.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Touch-screen voting machines were supposed to be the answer, a response to the chaos of the 2000 presidential election.

Instead, the discovery of about 18,000 electronic votes recorded as blank in this month's tight race for Congress has created a new black eye for Florida elections.

A paper trail might have provided clues to what happened Nov. 7, but Florida officials have balked at requiring such backup. The state Legislature repeatedly has killed measures to require a verifiable paper trail, and neither Governor Jeb Bush nor the secretary of state's office has pushed the idea.

So six years after late-night comedians joked about "bringing democracy to Florida," the state still has not found a way to hold elections without controversy.

Earlier this week, state officials certified Republican Vern Buchanan the winner over Democrat Christine Jennings by 369 votes, or less than 0.02 percent, in the 13th congressional district.

Jennings has contested the election, arguing that touch-screen voting machines had malfunctioned and asking a judge to order a new election. State officials said Wednesday they would test voting machines, including five used in Sarasota County on Election Day, for accuracy.

The high number of blanks, or "undervotes," cast in the race has been questioned. Computer problems are suspected, but finding an answer has been difficult.

Comparatively, only about 1 percent of Sarasota County voters did not make a selection in the senator and governor's race.

Once again, suspicious vote counts favor a Republican. And Republicans don't want paper trails. Why do Republicans hate America?