News and Publications

Revote of Florida's 13th Congressional District Election Called For by National Voting Rights Groups

For Immediate Release
November 15, 2006

Tim Rusch of Demos,
[email protected], (212) 389-1407
John Bonifaz of National Voting Rights Institute,
[email protected], (617) 624-3900, ext. 22

New York, NY--More than 18,000 votes are estimated to have been lost in Florida's 13th Congressional District, the Sarasota County district with a closely contested House race where fewer that 400 votes currently separate the candidates. Today, the National Voting Rights Institute and Demos, affiliated national voting rights and election reform organizations, issued the following statement calling for a revote in that district:

"Public confidence in the vote-counting process is a bedrock principle of any democracy. In Florida's 13th Congressional District, it is clear that only a revote with the option of hand-recorded paper ballots will ensure that voters in that district can trust that their votes will be properly counted.

"Paperless touchscreen voting machines used in Sarasota County, Florida, recorded more than 18,000 undervotes in this election, meaning that nearly 13 percent of voters in that county either made the unlikely choice not to vote in this race, or that the machines did not record their votes. Less than 400 votes separate Republican candidate Vern Buchanan and Democratic candidate Christine Jennings in this closely-watched U.S. House contest to replace Representative Katherine Harris, the former Secretary of State of Florida.

"The number of undervotes in this particular race is far higher than the 1,600 undervotes recorded in the U.S. Senate contest or the 1,800 undervotes recorded in the governor.s race in that county. It is also completely inconsistent with undervotes in other Florida counties and with the residual vote rate for these machines.

"In light of Sarasota County's use of paperless touchscreen voting machines, there is no way to conduct a meaningful recount in this election or to recover these 18,000 missing votes. With these machines, there is nothing to recount.

"With 18,000 lost votes, a margin of victory of less than 400 votes, and the inability to conduct any meaningful recount, this election should not be certified. The voters in Florida's 13th Congressional District are entitled to a revote with the opportunity to cast their votes via hand-recorded paper ballots.

"This election in Sarasota County should serve as a wake-up call to the nation to revisit the use of touchscreen voting machines to count our votes. The integrity of our vote-counting process is at stake."

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Members of the press: to schedule an interview with John Bonifaz, founder and general counsel of NVRI; Stuart Comstock-Gay, Executive Director of NVRI and Director of the Democracy Program at Demos; or Demos President Miles Rapoport, contact Tim Rusch at (212) 389-1407 or [email protected].