[LINK] Florida vote counting

Stewart Fist stewart_fist at optusnet.com.au
Tue Jan 16 11:00:16 AEDT 2007

Note the mention of Florida attorney-general Katherine Harris who designed
the famous Florida butterfly-ballot papers which got George Bush elected
(while also running the Florida Republican campaign).

Also note the emergence of serious machine undercounting of votes -- which
appears to have increased to flood proportions in this most recent US

Apparently a lot of Americans are willing to get up early and stand in line
for a couple of hours to vote at a polling station.  But then they go into
the booth and don't bother to register a vote on the machine.

Very strange people, the Americans.

Stewart Fist, writer, journalist, film-maker
70 Middle Harbour Road, LINDFIELD, 2070, NSW, Australia
Ph +61 (2) 9416 7458


December 29. 2006 5:06PM
Judge rules against Jennings, Democrats to seat Buchanan


TALLAHASSEE -- A judge ruled Friday that congressional aspirant Christine
Jennings has no right to examine the programming source code that runs the
electronic voting machines at the center of a disputed Southwest Florida
congressional race.

Circuit Judge William Gary ruled that Jennings' arguments about the
possibility of lost votes were "conjecture," and didn't warrant overriding
the trade secrets of the voting machine company.

Democrats in Congress meanwhile, said they'd allow Republican Vern Buchanan
to take the seat next Thursday, but with a warning that the inquiry wasn't
over and that his hold on it could be temporary.

The state has certified Buchanan the winner of the District 13 race by a
scant 369 votes.

The ruling Friday from Judge Gary prevents for now the Jennings camp from
being able to use the programming code to try to show voting machines used
in Sarasota County malfunctioned. Jennings claims that an unusually large
number of undervotes _ ballots that didn't show a vote _ recorded in the
race implies the machines lost the votes.

"The judge has reaffirmed that there is no merit to Christine Jennings'
baseless allegations that the voting machines malfunctioned," Buchanan
spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts said in a statement released by his campaign. "As
noted by the judge in today's ruling, two parallel tests conducted by the
state revealed '100 percent accuracy of the equipment in reporting the vote

Reggie Mitchell, a lawyer for People for the American Way, a group working
with the Jennings campaign in challenging the election results, said the
judge's decision would likely be appealed.

"We'd like to get (the code) and prove our case as opposed to listening to
the state and (the voting machine company's) theories," Mitchell said.
Jennings still has a complaint filed before Congress, which is the ultimate
arbiter of who will fill the seat. The seat is being vacated by Rep.
Katherine Harris, a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for the Senate.

"The House has the power to collect evidence and make a decision about who,
if anyone, was duly elected to represent the people of the 13th district,"
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., said Friday before the judge's ruling. Holt
plans to make an official statement next week making it clear that by
seating Buchanan, the House isn't forfeiting the right to reverse that
decision later.

"No one who is in a disputed election like this should get too comfortable
in the House of Representatives," Holt said in a news conference at the

But that was before Gary put a dent in Jennings' plans with his ruling
Friday, in which he said that testimony by experts for Jennings about how
unlikely it was that voters would have chosen to simply skip the race was
merely "conjecture."

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.,
said that the judge's ruling Friday didn't change plans by the House to
investigate the election, and also noted that the ruling isn't final because
Jennings can appeal.

But Democrats have no plans to block Buchanan from taking the seat, deciding
the people of the southwest Florida district should have representation
while the contest is being decided, Hammill said.

"This is the best way to maintain representation for Florida District 13
while allowing the two appropriate challenges to run their course," said

Jennings said she agreed.

"I think it's the right thing to do, to seat Vern Buchanan temporarily while
we gather evidence," Jennings said before Gary's ruling. "But I am pursuing
this and I do believe I will end up being the representative for the people
of the 13th District."

Neither Jennings nor her lawyers could be immediately reached following
Gary's ruling.

Holt said Democrats were sending a message that the winner of the seat
should be decided deliberately.

"This is not going to be a Congress where procedural matters are determined
by brute force," he said. But, he said he believed the evidence would show
that the vote was marred and there was a good possibility Jennings would
ultimately be seated.

The electronic touch-screen machines used in Sarasota County are at the
center of the challenge.

Some 18,000 Sarasota County electronic ballots did not register a vote in
the race, a much higher undervote rate _ nearly 15 percent _ than in others
such as those for governor or U.S. Senate. Jennings contends the machines
lost the votes. Buchanan backers and the company say that if there was an
unusually large undervote it was likely because of bad ballot design.

The state found no evidence of malfunctions in the machines, which were made
by Election Systems & Software. 

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