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Jennings fights denial of vote machine code

Published January 4, 2007


TALLAHASSEE - Democrat Christine Jennings asked an appeals court Wednesday to overturn a ruling that denied her access to the programming code for electronic voting machines used in Sarasota County in the Nov. 7 election.

Jennings wants experts to examine the programming to determine if the machines failed to count votes in her 13th Congressional District race against Republican Vern Buchanan.

The state declared Buchanan the winner, by 369 votes, of the race to replace Republican Rep. Katherine Harris. He is to be sworn in today.

But Jennings seeks to have the election results thrown out because about 18,000 ballots cast on the touch screen machines in Sarasota County didn't record a vote for Congress. The state regards those ballots, nearly 15 percent of the total cast in the county, as instances where voters chose to skip the race. Jennings contends that many tried to vote but their votes weren't counted.

Circuit Judge William Gary ruled last week that Jennings' claims amounted to conjecture and she had no right to learn the trade secrets of the machines' manufacturer, Election Systems & Software, by examining the programming code.

Jennings appealed Gary's ruling to the 1st District Court of Appeal. She is also pursuing an attempt in Congress to have the election thrown out.

Buchanan spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts said the appeal would "again demonstrate that there's no merit" to Jennings' case and "confirm that Vern Buchanan is the lawfully elected member of Congress."

[Last modified January 4, 2007, 01:13:01]

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