Now the fight really gets started. Democrat Christine Jennings has filed an official contest of the election results.
As we’ve noted many times here before, the central dispute concerns the “undervote” in one county, where about 13% of voters didn’t select a candidate in the congressional race — a rate far above those in the other counties. The Jennings campaign faults the electronic voting machines for the problem. Republican Vern Buchanan won the race by fewer than 400 votes, according to the official tally.
The complaint, filed today, notes that “The failure to include these votes constitutes a rejection of a number of legal votes sufficient to place in doubt, and likely change, the outcome of the election.”
Update: Press release from Jennings campaign follows.The release:
Citing statistical and eyewitness evidence of significant machine malfunctions sufficient to call into doubt the result of the election for Florida Congressional District 13, the Christine Jennings campaign today officially contested the election in Circuit Court. The complaint specifically requests the judge to order a new election âto ensure that the will of the people of the Thirteenth District is respected, and to restore the confidence of the electorate, which has been badly fractured by this machine-induced debacle.â
More than 17,000 undervotes (15%) were recorded on Sarasota Countyâs electronic voting machines, a rate nearly 6 times higher than the undervote rate in the other District 13 counties or in Sarasotaâs paper absentee ballots. Jennings won Sarasota County by a 53% – 47% margin, while losing the district-wide manual recount by 369 votes. As noted in the complaint:
âThe failure to include these votes constitutes a rejection of a number of legal votes sufficient to place in doubt, and likely change, the outcome of the election.â
The complaint also cites significant eyewitness accounts describing a consistent pattern of voter difficulty in having their votes recorded in the House of Representatives race, but not in other races on the ballot.
âThis is clearly a case of machine error â not ballot design error and not voter error,â added Jennings campaign attorney Kendall Coffey. âWeâre asking the courts to ensure that the will of the people of the 13th District is respected and end the crisis of confidence among the electorate by ordering a new election.â
As part of the discovery process, the Jennings campaign seeks expedited discovery of items including audit and ballot-image logs generated by the iVotronic system, iVotronic machines and related hardware that generated particularly high undervote rates, and the software â particularly the source code â used to operate that hardware.