The BRAD BLOG has learned that several lawsuits are likely to be launched this week in the Sarasota, Florida, election meltdown where some 18,000 votes failed to register on the county's paperless ES&S touch-screen voting systems on November 7th. Fewer than 400 votes currently divide candidates Vern Buchanan (R) and Christine Jennings (D), who are vying to fill disgraced former Sec. of State Katherine Harris's U.S. House seat in Florida's 13th congressional district.
A number of sources have confirmed to The BRAD BLOG that Jennings's legal team --- who previously filed court papers to impound voting machines and data for a possible investigation --- are preparing to file legal action to challenge the legitimacy of the race, perhaps as soon as this week.
As well, non-partisan legal election watchdog VoterAction.org has announced they will be filing suit this week along with People for the American Way Foundation, the ACLU of Florida, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Common Cause. Velvet Revolution.us (of which The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder) is also joining in support of the action. A plea to citizens by Voter Action, seeking help in funding the lawsuit, follows in full at the end of this article.
This graf, from Voter Action's announcement, is of particular note in light of our own previous call for the resignation of Sarasota's atrocious Supervisor of Elections, Kathy Dent --- the person responsible, perhaps more than any other, for leading her constituents into this otherwise avoidable debacle [emphasis in original]:
Sarasota's Herald-Tribune has been doing a very good job of covering the mess since it happened (if not prior to its occurring when something might actually have been done to avoid it).
Today, Herald-Trib columnist Rich Brooks joins the drumbeat of those calling for a full re-vote, writing this weekend: "[I]t's clear that a special election is needed to ensure a fair process. That's preferable to sending the wrong representative to Washington."
In an article on the many phone calls received from Sarasota voters detailing their experiences in trying to vote in the 13th District race, the Herald-Tribune reports today:
Either they couldn't find the District 13 race as they scrolled through their voting screens (about 36 percent) or their votes for either candidate did not initially register on the ballot summary page (more than 62 percent).
[M]any of the voters interviewed bristled at the notion that they were somehow careless or clueless and thus missed the race. Most of them --- ranging in age from 19 to 91 --- were keenly interested in the race and were familiar with touch-screen technology.
The most prevalent problem callers reported encountering happened when they touched a candidate's name, only to find that their vote hadn't registered on the ballot review page
Clearly, had Dent simply chosen a voting technology that would have allowed voters to express their intent on a paper ballot, this mess could never have occurred. Dent has gone out of her way for years to ensure that Sarasota voters would have no way of avoiding the problem they now face. Hopefully the courts will offer a way for the voters to express their actual intent in this important House election.
And the most important hope of all: That this election underscores everything that is wrong with E-Voting in our country and that we must do away (at the very least) with touch-screen voting systems...with or without a "paper trail."
Voter Action's announcement of their intended legal action and a plea for support follows in full...