Motion to dismiss Jennings' suit dead

Published December 15, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - State attorneys on Thursday withdrew a motion to dismiss a lawsuit calling for a new congressional election in southwest Florida's 13th District.

Democrat Christine Jennings' suit claims touch screen voting machines in Sarasota County lost up to 18,000 votes in her race against Republican Vern Buchanan, who won Katherine Harris' old seat by just 369 votes.

The Department of State decided that trying to get the case thrown out wasn't the most efficient use of resources, said spokeswoman Jenny Nash.

The Jennings campaign applauded the decision. "The secretary of state is acknowledging they have a role to play," spokeswoman Kathy Vermazen said. " ... It is their responsibility to figure out what happened, what went wrong."

Jennings' lawyers are now focusing on persuading a judge next Tuesday to order that they be given access to the manufacturer's proprietary source code that runs the voting machines. A state audit has found no evidence of a breakdown.

Meanwhile, Buchanan again called on Jennings to concede. "As he prepares to serve the district in Congress, this is an unfortunate distraction," said Sally Tibbetts, his press secretary.