Who Really Won?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Even The Slot Machine Votes in FLA?

From Daily Kos:

What Florida events in November let slide through a special pro-gambling amendment to the constitution – by a whisker – and still bypass the recount that is mandated for a close vote tally? What would a recount have found about the accuracy of machines that counted Castor v. Martinez, Kerry v. Bush — and that counted the ballots for new betting machines.

Specifically, the vote to permit slot machines, as in casinos, race tracks, betting parlors, jai lai.

Amendment #4 in Florida to allow slots at the tracks passed narrowly in a roller-coaster down-then-up vote count that pushed the amendment over the top — thanks only to the strange, belated appearance of absentee ballot counts that were opti-scanned in Broward County, and a flipped vote total in Pinellas County.

As of November 3, the statewide vote margin on Amendment 4 never exceeded 10,000 – ranging from a 6,500-vote edge against allowing slots in South Florida to a margin of 10,000 or so more citizens voting against slot machines.

The amendment looked headed to a razor-thin defeat. Not only that, the 0.1% total state margin would have required a recount of the vote tallies for the constitutional Amendment. (Anything less than 0.5%.) So the vote was 50-50 with 99% of the votes counted, a squeaker.

But a week later, the Amendment was ahead by 93,000 votes. How so?

Well, Broward County found 78,000 absentee votes that had not been counted (absentee votes in Broward are opti-scanned; only the in-precinct Election Day votes are touchscreen). The vendor for Broward is ES&S. Part of the problem was that the ES&S tabulator model used for absentees in Broward could not breach its limit of 32,000 votes without generating a massive numerical error, a newly discovered "counting-backward glitch" (that affected also some North Carolina counties and God knows where else, and that ES&S now has to fix and reprogram for future elections).

Amazingly, in this 50-50 election a miraculous 74,000 of 78,000 new Broward absentee voters voted "Yes" on slot machines. So most voters in the state were split right down the middle, but 95% of the newfound absentee voters were strongly in favor of betting.

Truly, a miracle for betting afficionados and the state Dept. of Education which wanted a dedicated share of the gambling revenues.