WASHINGTON — With little discussion, the House Administration Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to dismiss a Florida Democratic candidate's challenge to a 2006 congressional race that had become a major cause for critics of touch-screen voting machines.
The full House of Representatives must still vote on whether to dismiss Christine Jennings' challenge to the balloting, in which Republican Vern Buchanan was declared the winner by fewer than 400 votes.
Results, however, showed that 18,000 electronic ballots in Sarasota County showed no vote in the race; Jennings said the machines must have been faulty.
A congressional task force that convened to look into the matter recommended dismissal after congressional investigators said the machines hadn't malfunctioned.
Task force chairman Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-Texas, said he's heard complaints that the Government Accountability Office never found a culprit for the missing votes, but he said, "That truly was not our charge, our obligation.''
Jennings has said the contest was not about her, but an effort to find out what happened to the missing votes. Since that election, Florida has switched from touch-screen machines to so-called optical scan machines, which rely on paper ballots that are read by a computer.
Hayden Dempsey, an attorney for Buchanan's campaign, said Tuesday's vote "sends a strong message to losing candidates that you can't overturn an election just because you don't like the outcome.''
He lauded the committee for showing bipartisanship: Its six Democrats and three
Republicans voted unanimously to recommend dismissal.