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Christine Jennings Challenges FL Election Decision

The Florida Elections Canvassing Commission named Vern Buchanan (R) the winner in a close race against Christine Jennings (D) for the Congressional seat left open by Katherine Harris (R) in Florida’s 13th district. Jennings, a pro-choice woman, immediately filed a suit challenging the results due to irregularities with the new electronic voting machines that were used on November 7. Buchanan was declared the winner by a narrow margin of 369 votes, but over 18,000 ballots cast in the 13th district did not register votes for the heavily contested House race. According to Jennings’ website, this is “a dramatic statistical aberration.” Furthermore, the true election results cannot be resolved by simply recounting the votes that were registered if some voters never actually voted in the House race, the New York Times reports.

The Commission that decided the election – comprised of Governor Jeb Bush (R), State Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher (R), and Senator Daniel Webster (R) – has conducted both a machine recount and a manual one, but Jennings is calling for a new election. In a statement available on her website, Jennings defended her decision to challenge the election results: “I decided to contest the certification and request a new election because I believe it is essential that the true will of every voter be represented in the final tally. I will continue to fight for the voters who were denied their voice on Election Day. Every voter has a fundamental right to cast a vote that counts. I will do everything I can to ensure that that right is afforded to the people of Sarasota County and District 13.”

The suit may end up before the Florida state Supreme Court as a national test case for the validity of electronic voting machines, the Miami Herald reports. To prove her case, Jennings’ lawyers will ask for “unfettered access” to at least eight of the voting machines and software that were prepared for use in the November 7 election, also according to the Miami Herald. Another option for Jennings would be to appeal the results to the US House of Representatives.

Sources:

Miami Herald 11/21/06; New York Times 11/21/06; Associated Press 11/21/06

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