tampabay.com

Democrat drops lawsuit over vote loss

The federal investigation will do, she says.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published November 29, 2007


TALLAHASSEE - Democrat Christine Jennings has withdrawn a lawsuit over her 369-vote loss in a 2006 congressional race because a federal investigation will meet the same goals as the court case, her lawyers said.

Jennings withdrew the suit Monday in state Circuit Court as the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, began testing electronic voting machines she claims malfunctioned last year.

"We achieved the goal of having Sarasota County's voting machines independently tested," Jennings said in a statement Wednesday.

Republicans, though, hailed Jennings' decision as a victory.

"While Christine Jennings finally did the right thing by giving up her frivolous lawsuit, it comes a year too late," said Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer.

State testing failed to disclose problems with the touch screen machines that could explain why they failed to register results from up to 18,000 voters in the 13th District race between Jennings and Republican Vern Buchanan. State officials declared Buchanan the winner, but Jennings challenged the result in court and the House of Representatives.

Jennings' lawyers wrote in court papers that the congressional investigation will accomplish the same objectives by trying to determine why there were so many non-votes and whether Buchanan is entitled to the seat.

The withdrawal does not affect a challenge by 11 voters pending in the same court. One of their lawyers, Reginald Mitchell of the People for the American Way Foundation, said no decision had been made on whether to withdraw that suit.

Another lawyer in that case, Rebecca Harrison Steele, of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Florida, said a major goal of the plaintiffs has been accomplished through passage of a law earlier this year that requires voting machines to leave a paper trail.