Sowing Doubt About Voting Machines After a GOP Win in Florida

The shadow of vote fraud over elections won by Republicans in Florida, in the Times, anyway. Terry Aguayo's brief Tuesday item, "Winner Named For Florida Seat; Loser Files Suit," involves the race to fill the Florida congressional seat vacated by Katherine Harris, who made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate this year.

Aguayo leads off by assuming the validity of Democratic complaints about voting machine problems: "A Republican House candidate was named the winner on Monday in a disputed race in Sarasota where thousands of votes may have been lost by electronic machines, and the Democratic candidate immediately sued for a new election."

But the Times provides no independent evidence of the vote loss besides the losing Democrat's complaint.

Aguayo highlights the fact that the canvassing commission which confirmed the vote was all Republican: "The Republican, Vern Buchanan, won by 369 votes in the Nov. 7 election, according to results confirmed by the Florida Elections Canvassing Commission, which is made up of Gov. Jeb Bush; Tom Gallagher, the state chief financial officer; and Senator Daniel Webster of Winter Garden, all Republicans. The results, which fill the seat given up by Representative Katherine Harris, a Republican, were confirmed in a machine recount and a manual one.

"But the losing candidate, Christine Jennings, argued in documents filed in Leon County Circuit Court in Tallahassee that touch-screen voting machines had malfunctioned and not registered votes for her.

"More than 18,000 Sarasota County residents who cast votes in other races on the ballot did not register votes in the House race. Hundreds of voters said they had had trouble casting a vote for Ms. Jennings, the complaint said."

More comprehensive coverage from the local Sarasota Herald Tribune provides some necessary context: "[Lawyer Hayden Dempsey] said in the 2000 congressional race in Sarasota there were more undervotes in the contest, using an older paper ballot system, than occurred this year."