Election Law @ Moritz

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Edward B. Foley
Free & Fair is a collection of writings by Edward B. Foley, one of the nation's preeminent experts on election law.

Information and Analysis

FL-13: Recount Begins

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November 13, 2006

Debra Milberg, Moritz Class of 2008, continues to update her earlier analyses here and here of this race.

At 10am Monday morning, all 1,498 voting machines in Sarasota County will begin to recalculate their votes from last Tuesday’s election during a “machine recount” of the entire county. The two day recount is required by the state of Florida in elections with margins of less than one half of a percent. The current margin in FL-13 is less than 0.2 percent.

The countywide machine recount is in addition to an upcoming state audit of the election administration in Sarasota County. The state audit will include ballot accounting, tabulator performance, and forensic analysis, Secretary of State Sue Cobb said in a letter to Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent last week. Officials will also conduct at least two "parallel tests" of the voting equipment, using four of the spare machines that were not used on Election Day. See an Orlando Sentinel story here.

Over the weekend, Christine Jennings’ campaign encouraged their supporters to come forward with instances of machine malfunctions and voice their belief that their votes did not properly register for the congressional race. Attorneys for Democrat Jennings spent the weekend turning such voter statements into signed, notarized affidavits. The most common voter complaint was that after making their choices on the touch-screen machines, the final summary screen showed a vote for neither candidate in the Jennings-Buchanan race. Based on voter allegations thus far, Jennings’ attorney has stated that any legal challenge would likely focus on the potential malfunction of the touch-screen machines and the uncertainties of recounting electronic ballots. See a Herald Tribune story here.

Meanwhile, both congressional candidates, Vern Buchanan and Christine Jennings, traveled to Washington to attend orientation for newly elected members of the House of Representatives.