Jennings Drops Sarasota Lawsuit as GAO Investigates

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Associated Press, Wed, Nov. 28, 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TALLAHASSEE -- Democrat Christine Jennings has withdrawn a lawsuit over her 369-vote loss in a 2006 congressional race because a federal investigation will meet the same goals as the court case, her lawyers said.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 here as the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, began testing electronic voting machines she claims malfunctioned in Sarasota County last year.

State testing previously 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 another challenge by 11 voters still pending in the same court. 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.

Jennings was traveling Wednesday and not immediately available for comment.