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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Katherine Harris’ Ghost

Boy, talk about a strange but appropriate development: it’s increasingly clear that voting machine errors probably robbed Democratic candidate Christine Jennings of a victory in Katherine Harris’ old Florida House seat. You can read about it in the link, but the basic facts are that the electoral results showed a very large (18,000 vote) “undercount” (i.e., disparity in total votes cast) of House votes in a single county. Moreover, the ballots where voters seem to have skipped the House race in unaccountable numbers were those where every statewide Democratic candidate won by a margin that exceeded the district-wide margin for Jennings’ opponent, Vern Buchanan.This didn’t keep the Florida Secretary of State’s office from certifying the Buchanan win, replicating Harris’ famous quick certification in the 2000 presidential elections. There are a number of ways this result can be overturned: a state audit of voting machine performance; two separate lawsuits, and a direct challenge to the U.S. House. But the problem is that absent any way to exactly recover the uncounted ballots, the only remedy is a new election, which would likely produce a much smaller turnout than occurred on November 7. There’s no evidence of fraud at this point, but this electoral miscarriage of justice reinforces the already powerful case for requiring some sort of paper trail for electronic votes. I guess the good news is that Katherine Harris herself lost by so huge a margin in her fiasco of a Senate race that no manner of errors or quick certifications could have possibly saved her.

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