Congress Asked to Intervene in Fla. Race

The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 20, 2006; 10:23 PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Democrat who narrowly lost to a Republican in the race to replace Rep. Katherine Harris asked Congress on Wednesday for an investigation.

The state has declared that Democrat Christine Jennings lost to Republican Vern Buchanan by 369 votes. But 18,000 Sarasota County electronic ballots did not record a choice in the race, and Jennings contends that the number is abnormally high and that the machines lost the votes.

She filed with the House clerk an official contest of the election results in Florida's 13th Congressional District.

She said she will ask Congress to consider ordering a revote if her legal challenge in Florida fails. She is seeking to obtain the programming code for the touch-screen voting machines to determine whether a bug or malicious programming could have lost votes. The state has found no evidence of malfunction.

The company that makes the machines, Electronic Systems & Software Inc., is fighting the effort, saying its programming is a trade secret.

"It's not about me. It's about a revote," Jennings said by telephone from Washington. "I am not trying in any way to tell Congress what they should do. I am simply doing this for the integrity of our voting system."

Buchanan is to be sworn in Jan. 4. He has 30 days to respond to the challenge.

"Our primary concern is representing our constituency," Buchanan spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts said. "Nevertheless, we fully intend to respond."

Congress is unlikely to intervene immediately, said Salley Collins, a spokeswoman for the Committee on House Administration. The usual practice in such cases is to wait for the state-declared winner to be sworn in and a court to rule, then investigate if the candidate wishes to continue contesting the case.

© 2006 The Associated Press