Ehlers rebuffs Democrats on Fla.-13

House Administration Committee ranking member Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) Friday shot down a Democratic suggestion that the committee begin examining Democrat Christine Jennings’s contestation of the result in Florida’s 13th congressional district.

Ehlers said he has been given “no reason to believe that we should diverge from” the standard of allowing states to complete their reviews before the committee takes up a case. Jennings, who lost to now-Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) in November by 369 votes, is currently contesting the result of the election in a Florida court.

A letter surfaced this week from a voting machine company showing previously unknown pre-election problems with the machines used in the 13th district. In response, the nine Democratic members of the Florida delegation sent a letter Thursday to Ehlers and committee Chairwoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.) urging them to create a task force on the issue immediately.

In Sarasota County, 18,000 voters failed to cast a vote in the congressional race, an abnormally high “undervote.” Jennings has alleged this was caused by voting machines malfunctioning.

She is suing for access to the machines’ software so she can conduct a private review. The letter describes a slow response time on some of the touch-screen machines. The machines and the problem described in the letter have been cleared by a state audit.

Jennings’s campaign has said the letter shows that information about the machines’ problems was withheld from it in its court battle. It has criticized state and county officials for failing to fix the problem, which would have required an update to the machines.

Those officials and the voting machine company, Election Systems & Software, have said the problem had no affect on the integrity of the election and it was too late to solve the problem and have the fix certified.

Committee spokeswoman Janice Crump did not immediately respond to a request for comment and has  in the past declined to discuss the case, citing the Florida lawsuit.