"Computer malfunction is likelier than voter confusion or disgust over negative campaigning to account for the thousands of so-called undervotes in the District 13 Congressional race, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology political science expert testified Tuesday."
Attorneys for Democrat Christine Jennings and a group of 11 voters argued in Leon County Circuit Court that Election Systems & Software should hand over the source code that runs the paperless electronic voting machines used in Sarasota County in November."Voting Machine Glitch Likely, Expert Testifies". Indeed,
Only by analyzing the computer code inside Sarasota County's voting machines can it be determined whether a software bug ate the 18,380 votes missing from the election, Dan Wallach, a computer scientist from Rice University who specializes in voting technology, said in court.
ES&S is fighting the demand, arguing that opening the code would violate the company's trade secrets and expose them to devastating financial harm.
MIT political scientist Charles Stewart said Jennings would have won the race by as many as 3,100 votes if there had not been an "excessive" undervote in the Nov. 7 election in Sarasota County. More than 18,000 voters went to the polls but failed to cast a vote in the high-profile contest to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Longboat Key.The State of Florida has joined the putative GOP "winner" and ES&S in fighting disclosure of the evidence.
Based on his analysis, Stewart estimated that of those undervotes, as many as 14,000 were excessive, meaning they exceeded what would normally be expected in such a race.
But ES&S, Buchanan and the state, who will present their own academic experts, continue to argue that there is no proof that the touch-screen machines didn't work properly. They cited a state report released Tuesday that showed after two separate tests of the voting system that "there is no evidence to support the position that the iVotronic touch screens caused votes to be lost."Academics argue". See also "Disputed Sarasota election case goes back to court", "Expert: Machine setup caused 'undervote'" "Expert: High 'undervote' likely machine problem" and "Suit asks to see inside vote machine".
Miguel DeGrandy, an ES&S lawyer, said Jennings' academic experts were only advancing their opinions on why there was such a large undervote.
"The opinions they set forth are mere academic speculation," DeGrandy said. "These experts do not provide a specific theory as to why the equipment may have malfunctioned."
And the State of Florida, in its zeal to salvage a House seat for the GOP - at taxpayer expense - is embarassing itself:
The state has filed an interesting set of questions in Leon County Circuit Court that it wants some of the voters of District 13 -- those who filed a lawsuit challenging the Congressional election --to answer. The questions appear to seek answers that could support the theory that the 18,000 under vote in Sarasota County might have been due to user error. Yet, one question drew chuckles from Buzz, imagining crowds of voters gulping down cocktails before hitting the polls last month. ..."Maybe They Were Drunk?"
The Jennings campaign issued a press release last night calling the questions offensive. An attorney for the voters, Lowell Finley of California, also decried the questions in a court hearing today, saying the questions reflect the state's defiant attitude about the court challenge.
Crist Picks Butterworth for DCF
"Republican Gov.-elect Charlie Crist appointed Bob Butterworth, his Democratic predecessor as attorney general, Tuesday to lead the state's perennially troubled social services agency." "Crist taps Democrat to cure DCF's ills". See also "Butterworth will lead DCF", "Crist names `fixer' to lead DCF", "Crist taps Democrat as DCF secretary", "Democratic 'fixer' added to Crist staff" and "Crist taps Democrat Butterworth to head social services agency".
The Tampa Trib likes it: "Gov.-elect Charlie Crist's pick of former Attorney General Bob Butterworth to head the Department of Children & Families is a masterly choice and the first good news for the embattled agency in a long time." "Butterworth Inspired DCF Choice". So does the Daytona Beach News-Journal, "Public before politics", and the Orlando Sentinel, "Putting parties aside".
The Palm Beach Post, in saluting the appointment gives us a little Charlie history:
This is the best choice for social services secretary since Lawton Chiles picked Jim Towey in 1995. The Florida Senate, with Mr. Crist as a member, blocked that appointment as misguided payback for Gov. Chiles' defeat of Mr. Bush the year before."State needs Butterworth".
More Faith-based Prisons Coming?
"The state should create more faith-based prisons and prepare a better exit strategy for all prisoners if it wants to lower the number of inmates who are released only to commit more crimes, a task force recommended Tuesday." "Prisons can help felons get out and stay out".
"Newly-elected U.S. House Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Palm Beach Gardens, made his first appearance in Charlotte since the election last week." "A happy blue in red country".
"America has hidden behind anti-Castro exiles so long it is clear any rational Cuba policy must grow from weariness in their ranks. That time is about here." "It's high time U.S. talked to Cuba".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board:
The better answer for Florida would be to do away with capital punishment, which is losing favor across the country. The Death Penalty Information Center reports on a new Gallup poll showing that a majority of Americans favor life without possibility of parole, which Florida added in 1994, over execution. The number of executions this year is down by nearly half since 1999. That year, almost 300 people nationwide were sentenced to death. This year, it will be about 115."Execution went wrong; fix more than method".
- "BellSouth customers in Florida may pay an extra 50 cents per line for a year to make up for money the company spent dealing with last year’s hurricanes, state phone regulators decided Tuesday. The Public Service Commission approved the company’s request to let it pass on the costs to consumers. BellSouth can assess the charge anytime after Jan. 19." "Florida BellSouth customers to pay 50 cents a month for hurricanes".
- "Two Allstate property insurance companies can raise their rates by 8.2 percent, state regulators ruled Tuesday, a move that will affect roughly 400,000 customers. Allstate Floridian Insurance and Allstate Floridian Indemnity had originally requested average statewide rate increases of 22.5 percent and 33.2 percent, respectively. " "State approves 8.2 percent rate hike for Florida Allstate companies". See also "Scaled-back Allstate rate hikes approved".
Troxler: "A clean campaign pledge? Can't hurt".
"Egregious Miscarriage of Justice"
Daniel Ruth "While Gov. Jeb Bush will be vacating his public housing in just a few days, Richard Paey will still remain a 'guest' of the state for the next 23 years, a victim of an egregious miscarriage of justice that would embarrass even the most inept banana republic. Of course, that could change. Leadership might be afoot!" "Mercy Plea Travels A Painful Road".
"Action or Apathy"
"Jeb Bush's environmental footprint on Florida[?] By all accounts, he's left a lasting one -- either through action or apathy. It's a mixed bag of accomplishments and missed opportunities." "Governor's environment record has hits, misses".
"A proposed natural gas-burning power plant on the edge of the Everglades west of Wellington cleared a major hurdle Tuesday, winning the unanimous support of Gov. Jeb Bush and the Cabinet." "New FPL plant out west gets OK". See also "Bush, Cabinet OK power plant" and "Cabinet approves FPL natural gas plant".
"Jeb Makes First Post-Gubernatorial Commitment".
The Palm Beach Post joins the Miami Herald editorial board ("Visiting Syria, seeking an opening") in praising Nelson's trip to Syria: "Nelson made right trip".
Ban of Gifts
"During its annual meeting Friday, Volusia County's legislative delegation just said no -- to proffered flashing, strap-on noses meant to evoke the spirit of Rudolph the Reindeer. Lawmakers weren't being rude, as they quickly explained to donor Gail Camputaro, executive director of the local Council on Aging. They just had no intention of violating the Legislature's new ban on gifts." "Delegation earns a glowing report".
The Other Castor
"Betty Castor is the perfect choice to head the University of South Florida's Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions." "Castor Returns To Public Life".
"Soon to be ex- U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, D-Tampa, announced today that he is donating to the University of South Florida his files documenting eighteen years of service in the Florida House of Representatives and United States House of Representatives." "Rep. Davis donates 18 years of files to USF".
Cabinet Says "No"
"A plan to expand cargo operations at the port of Fort Pierce was rejected by Gov. Jeb Bush and the Cabinet Tuesday when they denied an application to moor barges over state-owned submerged land." "Cabinet torpedoes St. Lucie port plan".
"A task force commissioned by Gov. Jeb Bush to study problems ex-cons have re-entering society issued a sweeping final report Tuesday calling for new education programs in prison and greater collaboration with community groups." "Keeping ex-cons from going bad again".