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Reply #7: Same ballot design flaws/bias found in Broward & Dade that plagued Sarasota [View All]

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philb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-22-06 01:03 AM
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7. Same ballot design flaws/bias found in Broward & Dade that plagued Sarasota
Ballot design an issue in Broward and Dade, tooA close look at election numbers in Broward and Miami-Dade counties shows that confusing ballot design might have caused voters to overlook two Cabinet races.
Document | Sample ballot
The same electronic ballot design flaw implicated in more than 18,300 Sarasota nonvotes might have caused problems for South Florida voters in two well-publicized Cabinet races.

Both Broward and Miami-Dade counties recorded more than 34,000 nonvotes in their elections for attorney general and chief financial officer, according to election results from each county's Supervisor of Elections office.

The problem was worse in precincts with many older voters.

In both counties, the two Cabinet races appeared at the bottom of a voting screen with the higher-profile race for governor and lieutenant governor -- a contest in which seven sets of candidates nearly filled the screen. All races on the page were listed under a general heading.

One explanation is that many voters assumed the governor's race was the only one on the page, touched the ''next'' button and moved on through the ballot without noticing the two races.

In Sarasota, where the 13th Congressional District race also occupied the same page as the governor's race, experts have blamed the design problem for 18,382 nonvotes in one of the nation's most contested congressional races.

Voting machine malfunctions could have contributed to some of the nonvotes, said Stephen Ansolabehere, a member of the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project. Voters also may have decided to skip the race intentionally.

But the high number of nonvotes potentially related to the design -- throughout Florida -- signals a need to re-evaluate some of the state's electronic voting technology, Ansolabehere said.

''In general it's a good rule of thumb to have one office per screen,'' said Ansolabehere, who is also a political science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ``It really minimizes confusion as to what you're doing.''

The canvassing board certified election results Friday in Broward and Miami-Dade, and acknowledged the significant number of nonvotes in the two races.

''I think looking at that page you may not see those two races,'' Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes said.

Sarasota, Broward and Miami-Dade counties all use the same touch-screen iVotronic machines, which are produced by Election Systems & Software.

Each county designs its own ballots.
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