18,000 Votes (and One Congresswoman) Lost

| Thu Nov. 9, 2006 11:14 PM EST

Count on Florida to devise the electronic equivalent of a butterfly ballot. In Sarasota,

Democrat Christine Jennings lost to Republican Vern Buchanan by 368 votes, making it the second closest congressional race in the country. More than 18,000 voters who showed up at the polls voted in other races but not the Buchanan-Jennings race…. If the missing votes had broken for Jennings by the same percentage as the counted votes in Sarasota County, the Democrat would have won the race by about 600 votes instead of losing by 368.

Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent played dumb at a press conference Wednesday, hinting that voters at the polls chose not to vote:

"I do not know what to attribute it completely to. It's not a mechanical issue; it would be voters overlooking the race. We did not have any equipment failure…. I'm not a mind reader."

But Dent knew about the problem before the election. She told poll workers to warn voters that the congressional race was easy to miss on the touch-screens. Someone better remind this Kathy what happened to another one not too far away.

While Buchanan, the Republican, says he has the voters' mandate, both parties are mustering lawyers and money.

Just goes to show how little technology can compensate for human error, much less corruption.

—April Rabkin

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