Saturday, February 9, 2008

Sarasota Herald-Tribune Vanishes Big Election Mystery

The New York Times-owned Sarasota Herald Tribune scored another dubious honor Thursday: It reported the whitewashing GAO report absolving the iVotronic voting machines of error, and thus legitimizing Vern Buchanan's "win" over Dem. Christine Jennings in 2006 -- yes, it's taken that long to get just this far.

However, the truly eye-popping feat of reportage by Doug Sword was how he managed to completely fail to mention that less than two weeks earlier, another report came out from the Florida Fair Elections Center, entitled "Sarasota's Vanished Votes," which raised serious questions about the machines, the supervisor of elections, and the entire way the election and its review have been handled in Sarasota.

That report has been disappeared from the Herald-Tribune's reportage just as curiously as the 18,000 undercounted votes from the electronic machines in the Buchanan/Jennings election.

Sword and the Herald-Tribune also managed to ignore the fact that Sarasota activists have been fighting for truly impartial look at the vote and the review of the vote. Indeed, the very day its story ran, Kindra Muntz, President of SAFE and a vocal critic of the Sarasota election process, was interviewed on WMNF-Tampa (fast forward a little to locate Muntz) and discussed at length the farcical procedures of the electoral review, which included allowing the very elections personnel being investigated to decide what the investigators would actually see, and used voting machines that had already been swept clean of data in order to be used in a later vote.

The curious absence of any mention of the Florida Fair Elections Center's "Vanished Votes" report is odd by any journalistic criterion. Surely as the issue is gaining national attention in this presidential primary and election year, it would behoove alleged "News" reports dealing with extremely squirrelly ballot results to mention that there are conflicting studies, instead of just mentioning the one that sees no evil?

One might only point out that prior to becoming an elected representative of the people, Vern Buchanan was - and remains - the owner of Sarasota Ford, the largest car dealership in Sarasota (and the one with the biggest flag). As such, he constitutes one of the major revenue streams of the failing Herald Tribune, which has been cutting staff repeatedly in the past several months in an effort to stanch its bleeding bottom line.

The "powers" that be at the Sarasota paper would be better advised to either act with honor and credibility in reporting, or shut the paper down before it can't afford the mortgage on its fancy new Main St. Media Palace. Anyone in the mood can contact the paper here.

No comments: