Fisaco In Sarasota County, Fla., Could Result In Legislation Requiring Verifiable Paper Trails For All Voting Systems
The fiasco in Sarasota County, Fla. -- where 18,000 voters mysteriously failed to cast a vote for the U.S. House of Representatives -- may be the smoking gun election reform advocates need to pass federal legislation requiring all voting systems to have verifiable paper trails.
As JABBS noted last month, a whopping 13 percent of voters in the county failed to vote in the tight race between Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings. (A higher percentage of people s in the county voted for obscure races, such as hospital board -- something that political scientists said is incredibly unlikely.) In neighboring counties in the district, between 2 and 5 percent of voters did not cast a vote for the House seat.
It was a discrepancy that county elections superviosr Kathy Dent couldn't explain. But because there was no paper trail, voters had no way to prove that they had voted for Buchanan, Jennings, another candidate, or no candidate.
Buchanan wound up winning by 369 votes, out of nearly 240,000 cast. The local paper, the Herald-Tribune, determined that if Jennings had received the same percentage of the 18,000 missing votes as she did among counted votes in Sarasota County, she would have won by 600 votes.
But again, no paper trail, no recount, no way to know who the real winner was.
Beyond the question of who won Florida's 13th Congressional District -- ironically, the seat vacated by Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) -- the buzz on Capitol Hill is that the missing votes give new meaning to what had been a theoretical debate about the reliability of touchscreen voting machines.
"What happened in Sarasota really does highlight the issue," Howard Gantman, communications director for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), told the Herald-Tribune.
You can expect hearings, and Sarasota officials are expected to be called in to testify.
Feinstein, who is expected to become chairwoman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, plans to re-inroduce legislation requiring all voting systems to have verifiable paper trails.
With Democrats now in control of the Senate, there's a good chance the legislation should pass.