More undervotes found in precincts with older voters


Published: Wednesday, January 3, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 2, 2007 at 11:00 p.m.

SARASOTA — Sarasota County precincts with more older voters registered larger percentages of ballots without a choice in a disputed congressional race, according to a newspaper analysis reported Tuesday.

An analysis of data from the Nov. 7 election by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune showed an undervote of 18 percent in precincts where the median age was greater than 65 — 40 percent higher than in precincts with younger voters.

Several experts have said the trend supports the theory that poor ballot design made the District 13 race hard to see on Sarasota County's touch-screen machines and that the age of a voter compounded the problem.

Some 18,000 Sarasota County electronic ballots did not register a vote in the race, a much higher undervote rate — nearly 15 percent — than in others such as those for governor or U.S. Senate.

Democrat Christine Jennings has asked Congress to examine the 369-vote win by Republican Vern Buchanan, contending that malfunctioning voting machines were to blame. A state audit, however, found no evidence of malfunctions.

Buchanan backers and the machines' manufacturer say that if there was an unusually large undervote it was likely because of bad ballot design.

Democrats in Congress said they'd allow Buchanan to take the seat Thursday, but with a warning that the voting inquiry wasn't over and that his hold on it could be temporary.

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