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Edward B. Foley
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Information and Analysis

FL-13: Update 11/10/06

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November 10, 2006

This is an update prepared by Debra Milberg, Class of 2008, Moritz College of Law, to her earlier analysis.

Following the Florida Secretary of State’s announcement on Wednesday that her office would conduct an audit of Sarasota County’s voting system, the Florida Elections Canvassing Commission reportedly will meet Monday to decide whether to proceed with a recount. The Commission consists of Governor Jeb Bush, and two additional members of the Cabinet selected by the Governor.

While waiting for the recount decision, other allegations of electronic voting machine malfunctions have surfaced in Florida. There is a report that additional counties suffered significant “undervotes” in the Florida Attorney General race. Reportedly, three of the 24 other Florida counties that use the same electronic-voting machines as Sarasota County (Sumter, Lee and Charlotte counties) had an even higher percentage of ballots fail to show any vote cast in the race for state attorney general. In Sumter County, undervotes accounted for 22 percent of all ballots in the attorney general's race. In Lee County, 18 percent of ballots in that race were unvoted, and in Charlotte County, 21 percent were blank.

These reports are susceptible to conflicting interpretations. Democratic Party officials in Sarasota said many people failed to cast votes in the race because it was posted too high and inconspicuously on the top of the computer screen, and voters failed to see it. But Republican Party officials said voters may have simply opted not to vote in those races. Meanwhile, the election supervisor in Sarasota County maintains that the machines worked properly and that the undervote should be attributed to voter apathy towards the negative campaigning in the congressional race.