Dispute Over Congressional Seat Ends Up in Tallahassee Courtroom

By Mike Vasilinda
November 21, 2006 11:55 pm

The judge refused to grant the certified loser in the race an independent test on suspect voting machines.

Christine Jennings sat behind her lawyers, hoping the legal process will find enough votes to make her the winner in a Sarasota Congressional seat where she trails by 369 votes.

Her attorney is calling it a test case for the nation and he asked for the computer source code and an independent analysis of electronic voting machines to prove they didn’t count all of the votes.

"This is a case where the will of the voters of District 13 was defeated by machine error," said Kendall Coffey.

More than 18, 000 votes weren’t cast or read by the machines in the Congressional race.
Attorneys for the Secretary of State and the Sarasota Elections Supervisor argued allowing independent tests were a mistake.

"Everything that is done with these machines from this moment forward, judge, should be as fair, open, transparent and objective as possible," said Pete Antonacci.

The judge refused to allow independent testing of the machine or to speed the case up. Outside, Jennings’ attorney was putting the best face possible on the ruling.

"Frankly, we wanted more," Coffey said. "We wanted this case to move very, very quickly. It is our view that that still serves the interests of justice. Fortunately, nothing we were asking for was rejected."

As for Jennings, she was saying little.

"I just want to make sure that every vote counts," she told reporters.

The winner is supposed to take office January 3. Jennings declined to comment when asked if she would seek a political solution, by asking Democrats in Congress to seat her instead of Buchanan if the legal process goes against her.