Fla. politician forgets to sign absentee ballot

Sunday, May 9, 2004

LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. -- Rep. Katherine Harris, the former Florida secretary of state who oversaw the disputed 2000 presidential election, admits she's responsible for a vote going uncounted -- her own.

Harris forgot to sign her absentee ballot when she voted in Longboat Key's local election March 9.

"I feel terrible," the Republican said Friday. "It's a mistake. I regret it."

Harris said she was in a rush to catch a flight to Washington, D.C., when she handed the unsigned ballot to her husband to send in. She said she usually votes in person and has never had trouble before.

The election decided the fate of a proposed community center, a Longboat Key Town Commission seat, and a term-limit proposal for town officials.

Harris later received a letter from the supervisor of elections informing her that her vote did not count.

As secretary of state, Harris oversaw the disputed count that gave George W. Bush a crucial 537-vote victory over Al Gore in Florida. Harris said all along that she simply followed the letter of the law, but she became a darling of GOP activists and was elected to Congress in 2002.

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