Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D-Fla.) campaign filed a lawsuit on Tuesday seeking to bar Florida’s top elections official from rejecting unconventionally marked ballots. The lawsuit, filed in federal court by both Nelson and the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm in Tallahassee, asks a judge to ensure that the Florida Department of State does not disqualify ballots where selections are marked in different ways, so long as the voter’s intention is clear. A ruling in the lawsuit could be key in determining whether numerous ballots are tallied if the Senate race in Florida goes to a hand recount. The lawsuit argues that Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner’s office could reject ballots on which a voter may have marked a selection in more than one way.
Florida: A Mysterious ‘Undervote’ Could End Up Settling the Florida Senate Race | The New York Times
The vote count in Florida’s Senate race keeps getting tighter. Gov. Rick Scott’s lead over the Democratic incumbent, Bill Nelson, is down to 15,000 votes, and it’s likely to narrow further as provisional and late overseas ballots are counted. As the initial count concludes, one issue will loom over the result: a substantial undervote in Broward County, the state’s most Democratic county, and the possibility that the ballot design, which might have made it harder to find the Senate choice, will ultimately cost the Democrats a Senate seat. An undervote is when a voter casts a ballot but doesn’t vote in one of the contests on the ballot. At the moment, there are a lot of undervotes in the Senate race in Broward. If Mr. Scott ultimately prevails by a margin of 10,000 votes or less, the undervotes in Broward County could be what cost Mr. Nelson the race. Broward County has reported about 25,000 fewer votes cast for Senate than for governor, a difference of about 3.7 percent. That means voters left their Senate choice blank, or the choice was not counted because of a tabulation error like an equipment problem. This is highly unusual, and there’s nothing like this discrepancy elsewhere in the state. Immediately across the county line in Miami-Dade County, about the same number of people voted in the Senate race and the governor’s race.
Philadelphia city commissioners are investigating an unusual series of over-votes in last year’s primary election – 83 voting divisions citywide where the official vote totals were bigger than the recorded number of voters who showed up. In most locations, the discrepancies were small, just a handful of votes. In many instances, minor procedural mistakes could account for the anomalies. But so far, the bulk of the over-voting has not been explained. Until they understand what happened, the commissioners say, they cannot rule out the possibility of deliberate, illegal efforts to run up votes for favored candidates, with the perpetrators losing count as they tried to cover their tracks. In a situation like that, the tiny numbers of over-votes might be red flags for a much larger problem with the underlying vote totals.
On Election Day 2000, tens of thousands of Floridians accidentally marked their ballots in ways that could not be read by the state’s voting machines. Their votes didn’t count. The identity of our next president hung in the balance for 36 days.
To prevent the Florida debacle from repeating, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002. The law required states to upgrade their voting machines. Voting machines must now warn voters and give them an opportunity to correct their ballot if they determined there was an “overvote,” the invalid selection of more than one candidate, on the ballot.
This technological fix was supposed to make these kinds of lost votes a thing of the past. Although there is no reliable nationwide data on the number of overvotes in recent elections, it is likely that the voting-machine changes mandated by HAVA have substantially reduced overvoting. But the HAVA requirements haven’t been enough to prevent votes from being lost — sometimes in staggering numbers — in recent elections.
A plenary session of the House of Representatives will rule on Tuesday on a draft election bill that includes an unsettled clause about the electoral threshold level for political parties.
Viva Yoga Mauladi, House faction deputy chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), said that because the factions had been unable to agree on three clauses, the leadership of the House, also known as the DPR, agreed on Monday to bring the draft bill to the plenary session for a decision.
A Norwood resident told Norwood-Norfolk School Board members last week that he still had concerns about the close results during this year’s school budget vote.
“I have some concerns relative to the overwhelming vote, the two votes that passed the budget last month,” Robert Haggett said. “It concerns me that a budget of this size can pass by two votes. That certainly doesn’t constitute much of a majority.” The district’s $19.2 million spending plan, which called for a 5.82 percent tax levy increase, passed by a razor-thin 288-286 margin during the May school budget vote.
However, 581 district residents went to the polls and 22 ballots were voided because the residents did not vote “yes” or “no” on the voting machine for one of the propositions or their votes did not register in the machine, District Clerk Barbara Halpin said.
The high number of invalid ballots cast for constituency candidates resulted from voters marking a cross in the wrong boxes, particularly the boxes of parties which had not fielded candidates in that particular constituency, the Election Commission said. EC secretary-general Suthipol Thaweechaikarn yesterday announced unofficial counts of invalid ballots cast in Sunday’s election.
The counts showed that the total number of invalid ballots cast for constituency candidates accounted for 5.74% of all ballots cast.
Invalid constituency ballots outnumbered invalid ballots cast for party-list candidates, which stood at 4.88%, Mr Suthipol said. The average rate of invalid ballots for both election systems was 4-5% which is not much different from that of the 2007 general election, he said.