State: Voting Machine Test Variations Due to Human Error

SARASOTA -

Two variations in the final test of touch-screen voting machines used in a contested congressional race were due to human error, state officials said Tuesday.

That finding concluded the tests, said Secretary of State Sue Cobb. Election officials previously had announced the testing failed to turn up any evidence the machines used in Sarasota County had malfunctioned.

Democrat Christine Jennings is contesting the official results that gave Republican Vern Buchanan a 369-vote victory in the 13th District. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Longboat Key, is giving up the seat after losing a U.S. Senate race.

Jennings contends the machines malfunctioned, depriving her of the victory.

Two tests, each involving eight voting machines, were conducted last week as part of a state audit that is trying to determine why the results showed no ballots were cast in the congressional race by 18,000 voters who went to the polls in Sarasota County.

The Division of Elections audit will continue with reviews of voting machine software and videos of the testing and an analysis of Election Day records.

'It is imperative to the integrity of Florida's election process and voter confidence that the comprehensive audit continues as planned,' Cobb said in a statement. 'I look forward to receiving a final report from our audit team when their work is complete.'

Jennings is seeking a new election in a lawsuit against state and local election officials and the manufacturer of the machines. No hearings currently are scheduled in that case.

'While we would have welcomed any additional information that was gleaned from this process, the fact that this test failed to address any of the questions raised by the election in Sarasota only points to the importance of a good independent audit,' Jennings spokeswoman Kathy Vermazen said.

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