House Record to Reflect That Jennings Challenge is Justified, House Action Will Not Prejudice Legal Proceedings or Legislative Inquiry
Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today announced that he intends to take steps to put the U.S. House of Representatives on record as recognizing the justification of the electoral challenge filed by Congressional candidate Christine Jennings regarding the disputed election in Florida's 13th Congressional District, and making clear that any House proceedings on January 4, 2007, will not prejudice legal proceedings or legislative inquiry regarding the election's validity.
"It is a matter of fundamental fairness, of good government, and of accountability that we get to the bottom of this election," said Rep. Rush Holt. "It is imperative that every election reflect the will of voters accurately. In the case of Florida-13, there is no way to know whether result presented by the Florida Secretary of State is valid - in fact, there is significant evidence that it is not. 18,000 missing votes in a race certified on the basis of a 369 vote margin is an overwhelming indication that something went wrong."
According to evidence provided in the Florida case, to date, 18,000 ballots cast on electronic voting machines did not record the voter's selection for the House of Representatives, more than enough to change the outcome of the election, which was awarded to Vernon Buchanan by a margin of 369 votes. Had all votes been counted, the outcome would have been different, according to Dr. Michael Herron, an independent expert hired by ES&S, the manufacturer of the electronic voting machines used in Florida-13.
"Christine Jennings has duly filed a legitimate contest to the certification of the election results of Florida-13. Ms. Jennings raises serious issues, and I think, compelling evidence. According to Ms. Jennings, the number of votes in question is 50 times greater that the number of votes representing the margin of victory. According to independent experts and the voting machine manufacturer, the results would have been different had all votes been counted."
On January 4, 2007, Rep. Holt will make a formal inquiry on the House floor immediately after the swearing-in of the new Speaker. The inquiry will ensure that nothing the House does will prejudice those proceedings or the legal challenge underway in Florida.
"Under federal law, there is a procedure in place for reviewing contested elections," said Holt. "The House should do nothing to compromise or prejudice the case Ms. Jennings has before the Florida courts. I expect the evidence will show that the certification did not reflect the will of the voters and a re-vote is necessary."
The House Administration Committee is reviewing Jennings's challenge under the Federal Contested Elections Act. The Committee's inquiry as to whether the certified result was valid, and whether the matter should be referred to the full House of Representatives, will be informed by the legal proceedings in Florida.
"I intend to work with House leadership to ensure that every vote is counted in Florida-13, and that citizens get the representation that they have chosen," said Rep. Holt. "I also intend to pass my legislation requiring that all voting systems use or produce a voter-verified paper ballot so that electronic tallies can be independently verified."
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