Saturday, November 25, 2006

More theft

Here's what happened in Florida, in the election to fill Katherine Harris' vacated Congressional seat, oh help us, Lord. From E. J. Dionne, Jr.:
The official vote count in the battle for -- you won't believe this -- Katherine Harris's seat put Republican Vern Buchanan 369 votes ahead of Democrat Christine Jennings out of roughly 238,000 votes cast.

But in Sarasota County, there was an "undervote" of more than 18,000 -- meaning that those voters supposedly didn't choose to record votes in the Buchanan-Jennings race. Jennings carried the county 53 percent to 47 percent.

The Sarasota undervote in the congressional race amounted to nearly 15 percent. Kendall Coffey, Jennings's lawyer, has pointed out that in the other four counties in the district, the undervote ranged from 2.2 to 5.3 percent. Put another way, roughly 18,000 of the 21,000 undervotes in the contest came from Sarasota County.

Harris, as you may have tried to forget, was Governor Jeb (Big Brother) Bush's appointed Secretary of State, hence head of the elections, in 2000, at the same time she was George W. (Little Brother) Bush's Florida campaign co-chair.

Any wonder so many folks think that election was stolen?

It's not that Harris is alleged to be involved this time -- she was too busy losing a Senate race with only 38% of the vote. But the freaky thing is this is where electronic voting crosses into the plotline like sort sort of historical fiction novel. Per Jim Stratton at the Orlando Sentinel:
About 15 percent of ballots cast on Sarasota's touch-screen machines registered no choice in the bitterly fought congressional race. That percentage was about six times greater than the undervote in the rest of the House district, which spreads into four other counties.

Since Election Day, dozens -- if not hundreds -- of voters have reported problems at the polls. Some say their vote for Jennings never registered after they touched her name. Others say they never saw the congressional race on the machine's screen.

The Jennings campaign argues that only a machine malfunction can account for the high number of undervotes in the congressional race.

Her experts claim that because Jennings won in Sarasota by a 52 percent-to-47 percent margin -- the only county she carried -- she would have picked up the bulk of any votes that were lost. Those votes, they say, would have been enough to defeat Buchanan.

This is a test case, America. There will be 15 days for election officials to test all the machines in Sarasota County, but the question is, as Florida election officials inspire less confidence than El Presidente on Jeopardy!, will they use those 15 days wisely or screw them up, and even if they manage to do their jobs properly, how far can they really get without paper back-up receipts (not hard to do)?

What if the machines have been tampered with since then? What if they have programming designed to self-correct and erase the dirty code so there's no evidence?

Watch the news as this story grows. People don't trust these machines to begin with, and there were so many stories coming in from different parts of America where Diebold opens the lockbox of Democracy.

If anyone on the victorious side thinks that simply winning this last one was enough and that the internal threats that have risen to our American system of government, to our Constitution and Bill of Rights are now vanquished, think again. There will be investigations, and all of us need to support them.

So once more back into the Floridian breach. How about this time we thwart the crime.

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