In Florida, Democrats seek a new election

The state certifies a 369-vote victory for Republican Vern Buchanan, but what about those 18,380 "undervotes"?

Tim Grieve
November 20, 2006 11:36PM (UTC)

Democrat Christine Jennings has just filed suit in Florida, asking a judge there to declare her the winner or schedule a new election in the machine-scarred race to succeed Florida Rep. Katherine Harris.

Jennings filed her lawsuit just after Florida's Elections Canvassing Commission certified election results that would give Harris' seat to Republican candidate Vern Buchanan. In the commission's official -- for now -- tally, Buchanan leads Jennings by just 369 votes. That's an incredibly small percentage of the nearly 240,000 votes cast in the race, especially when you factor in the fact that voting machines in Sarasota County purport to show that 18,380 voters completed ballots but didn't bother to vote in the congressional election.


Republicans and voting-machine company officials are suggesting that all those voters might have withheld their votes from the congressional race intentionally, or that a crowded ballot meant that they somehow missed the fact that they had voted in other races but not that one. Jennings doesn't buy it. As Jennings lawyer Kendall Coffey tells the Miami Herald, the 14 percent "undervote" ratio in Sarasota County -- the only county Jennings won -- is starkly higher than the 2.2 to 5.3 percent "undervote" ratio in the other counties that make up Florida's 13th Congressional District.

''There is a crisis of confidence in these machines,'' Coffey says. "It is absolutely certain something went terribly, terribly wrong.''

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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