BUCHANAN - JENNINGS RACE COULD BE DECIDED IN COURT...OR IN THE NEW HOUSE
The 13th Congressional District race between Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings was very close...only 368 votes seperate the two. And with an extraordinairly unusual undervote and complaints that the touch-screen voting machines concealed the candidates' names, this is undoubtably headed to court...or possibly to the new House of Representatives, which is constitutionally the final arbiter in such disputes.
According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:
Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent (R) called on state officials for help. Democrats and voters' rights activists have questioned the results of the race...
The state Division of Elections pledged to audit the county's voting system after any recounts to see why more than 18,000 voters -- 13 percent -- who showed up at the polls voted in other races but not the Buchanan-Jennings contest.
Gov. Jeb Bush called the 13th district results "an unusual anomaly" on Thursday...
In one part of Newtown, a predominantly black and heavily Democratic neighborhood in Sarasota, more than 22 percent of voters did not register a vote in the Jennings-Buchanan race. Undervoting also was common in predominantly white areas.
One recount expert notes that recounts involving touch screen machines are often inconclusive because it lacks a paper trail, something that many activists have called for. Chris Sautter told New York Times Regional Newspaper Group reporters that It would be "extraordinarily rare" for a court to order a new election even if the Jennings camp makes a convincing case that enough votes weren't counted to make a difference in the outcome.
A strong enough case in court could be enough to throw the decision into the hands of the House of Representatives, which will have a Democratic majority when it convenes in January.