Friday, November 24, 2006

Let Me Adjust Your TinFoil Hat, Mr. Krugman

We have a new initiate in the tinfoil sect, and that is Paul Krugman. This quote shows his entry examination, and we gave him the secret whistle and three thumbs up:

Here's the background: Florida's 13th Congressional District is currently represented by Katherine Harris, who as Florida's secretary of state during the 2000 recount famously acted as a partisan Republican rather than a fair referee. This year Ms. Harris didn't run for re-election, making an unsuccessful bid for the Senate instead. But according to the official vote count, the Republicans held on to her seat, with Vern Buchanan, the G.O.P. candidate, narrowly defeating Christine Jennings, the Democrat.

The problem is that the official vote count isn't credible. In much of the 13th District, the voting pattern looks normal. But in Sarasota County, which used touch-screen voting machines made by Election Systems and Software, almost 18,000 voters — nearly 15 percent of those who cast ballots using the machines — supposedly failed to vote for either candidate in the hotly contested Congressional race. That compares with undervote rates ranging from 2.2 to 5.3 percent in neighboring counties.

Reporting by The Herald-Tribune of Sarasota, which interviewed hundreds of voters who called the paper to report problems at the polls, strongly suggests that the huge apparent undervote was caused by bugs in the ES&S software.

About a third of those interviewed by the paper reported that they couldn't even find the Congressional race on the screen. This could conceivably have been the result of bad ballot design, but many of them insisted that they looked hard for the race. Moreover, more than 60 percent of those interviewed by The Herald-Tribune reported that they did cast a vote in the Congressional race — but that this vote didn't show up on the ballot summary page they were shown at the end of the voting process.

He then goes on to remark that the mainstream media isn't all over this story, because it wouldn't change the Democratic victory. But machines nullifying the votes of thousands of people is bad for democracy, and it should be news.