Monday, June 18, 2007

GAO To Examine Sarasota Voting Machines

A House Administration Committee task force has asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to complete its examination of disputed voting machines quickly and report findings by July 27.

The GAO will scrutinize equipment used in Sarasota County, Fla., where Democrat Christine Jennings is contesting her loss in last year’s 13th Congressional District election.

GAO investigators are assigned to determine to what extent machines were responsible for the lower number of votes cast for Congress than for other races.

Jennings contends electronic voting machine errors are to blame for 18,000 ballots being recorded without a congressional choice.

The task force agreed last month to allow the GAO to design a plan to investigate the election, in which Republican Vern Buchanan was certified the winner by 369 votes.

The goal of completing work July 27 put the GAO on a faster timetable; the agency had suggested filing a report in September.

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-Texas, chairman of the three-member task force, said the schedule that now has been set "respects the need to arrive at a solution sooner rather than later."

Jennings also has contested the election outcome in Florida courts, where she has appealed a ruling in the Republican's favor. Last month, Jennings filed a motion to stay her appeal, saying the move was meant to defer to the congressional investigation.

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