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There's more than bad ballot design, study finds

Democrat Christine Jennings is touting results of an independent study that cites new evidence of machine failure in Sarasota County and concludes that misleading ballot design, voter turnoff and other theories do not account for the "extraordinarily high undervote rate" in the county.

The authors of the report, who said they performed a statistical analysis of electronic ballot and "event log data" from the November election, said they were "unable to propose a convincing mechanism based on voter, machine or ballot characteristics that completely explains the phenomenon.

"In a nutshell," wrote authors David Dill and Walter Mebane, "the excessive CD-13 undervote rate in Sarasota County is not yet well-understood and will not be understood without further investigation."

Dill is a professor at Stanford University's Department of Computer Science; Mebane is a professor at Cornell University's Department of Government.

Jennings is suing in appeals court for the right to examine the secret computer source code used in the voting machines. She lost the election by fewer than 400 votes, but more than 18,000 voters failed to cast ballots in the congressional race.

"Despite Florida election officials repeatedly denying that there were problems, there are many  unanswered questions about what went wrong with Sarasota's electronic voting machines," Jennings said. "And with the first presidential primaries only 12 months away and millions of Americans using similar marchines, this is a test case for the entire nation."