November 8, 2006 | By Rebecca Jeschke

E-Voting Problems in Tight Florida Race

A detailed report in Wednesday's Sarasota Herald-Tribune raises some important questions about touchscreen voting and a congressional race there that could be missing votes.

The paper reports that as of Wednesday morning, Republican Vern Buchanan had a lead of a few hundred votes over Democrat Christine Jennings in the battle for Florida's 13th Congressional District. But in about 13% of the ballots cast, there was no vote in the congressional race at all. So while 87,797 in Sarasota County voted in the Florida senate race, only 76,549 made a choice in the congressional race. That's also about 3,000 fewer people than voted in the local hospital board election, according to the report.

The Jennings campaign says voters complained throughout the day Tuesday about votes not registering properly in the congressional election. Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent says nothing went wrong with the machines, but, without a paper trail, there's no way of knowing for sure that votes are accurately counted as cast. Voters in that county chose yesterday to scrap the machines in favor of paper ballots by 2008, but that can't remove the shadow e-voting machines cast over this election.

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