Buchanan declared ‘victor’ ;Jennings Officially Contests Election by Mitch E. Perry

11/20/06

Democrat Christine Jennings officially contested her controversial Congressional District race today -- immediately after the Florida Election Canvassing Commission certified that Republican Vern Buchanan was the winner in Florida’s 13th Congressional district.

Kendall Coffey has been hired by the Jennings camp in the election dispute. He said the only way to address the problem that led to over 18,000 undervotes in Sarasota county, is another vote (roll tape#1 o.q.�begin to be answered�)

After the machine and manual recounts were finished this weekend in the 5 different counties that represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District, Buchanon officially received 369 more votes than Jennings. But the big story has been about the massive amount of people in Sarasota County – over 18,000 – who chose NOT to vote in the race.

The Buchanan camp and his supporters say that those voters simply did NOT choose to engage in the Congressional Race. But The Jennings team says that’s absurd. North Florida Democratic Congressman Allan Boyd spoke at the news conference(roll tape#2 o.q.� This particular election right�)

Part of the official contest now will be to have computer experts from both candidates, and from the state, do an inspection of the voting machines that were used in Sarasota County on election Night.

Poor ballot design has been mentioned by observers as to what could lead to so many voters missing the Congressional race. But Jennings Attorney, Kendall Coffey, downplayed that reason by saying that this Congressional race had the same type of look 4 years ago, although that was not on a touch screen machine.

And Coffey said his team has many eye witness accounts of problems with the electronic machines, manufactured by the group ES&S. He recounted what he said was a typical complaint (roll tape#3 o.q.� to truly diagnose the cost�)

The new Congress will not begin their duties until January 20th – 2 full months from today. But Jennings Attorney kendall Coffey says the legal machinations need to happen ‘with velocity’, hoping it will take weeks , and not months for a Court to adjudicate the situation.

Coffey says the idea behind testing the ES&S machines is to ‘unravel’ the mystery of the 18,000 undervotes – by having computer experts test the software codes, and get inside the source code.

North Florida Democrat Allen Boyd alerted reporters in Tallahassee that the U.S. House of Representatives can have the final say in such a dispute. As WMNF reported last week, such a provision does exist in the U.S. Constitution..

But when asked by reporters if that meant the Democrats, who will officially take over the House on January 20th, were prepared to go ahead and install Jennings in the seat, Boyd said it was far too early to begin such speculation (roll tape#4 o.q.�long ways to go�)

The problems with the 18,000 undervote in Sarasota County led 2 Democrats on Capitol Last week to approve Federal legislation requiring a paper trail for electronic voting.

New Jersey’s Rush Holt argued that the Jennings Buchanan election has exposed the system’s flaws.

He was joined by South Florida Congressman Robert Wexler, who blamed the lack of a paper trail on the "irrational stubbornness of Governor Jeb Bush," who has steadfastly refused to consider any such regulation.

Democratic Congressman Allan Boyd also used the occasion to criticize the use of touch screen machines without having a paper trail (roll tape#5 o.q.� when they know they did�)

This afternoon the Florida Republican Party announced their objection to the Jennings contest. In a statement from Party Chair Carole Jean Jordan, the state GOP says they are calling on Jennings “once again…to , for the first time this election cycle, put the will of the people and the needs of the District ahead of her own ambitions and call off her legal team’s attempts to litigate their way to an ill-gotten victory.�

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