Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Newspapers Split Over FL-13 Debacle

Florida editorial boards are beginning to weigh-in with their opinions on how Christine Jennings should handle the outcome of the election and recount. If you've been following the coverage of the FL-13 race, you know the basics. We won't rehash it now.

Yesterday, the Sentinel offered our opinion to Jennings - concede in the interest of the citizens of District 13. Here is what editorial boards are saying:

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Jennings Should Not Concede

Now is no time for Christine Jennings to concede the District 13 congressional election. Concession as well as victory speeches should be shelved until experts can determine whether Sarasota County's touch-screen voting machines worked properly.

Without that assurance, there is too much room for doubt about the true outcome of this close race.

Neither Buchanan nor Jennings should wish to serve in Congress under such a cloud. They and the voters would be better off waiting for a fact-finding mission to bolster the credibility of the election results.

Auditors, scheduled to begin their work next Tuesday, need a chance to examine the evidence. The election cannot be truly settled until fears of major irregularities have been ruled out.

Tampa Trib: Jennings Wants To Count Until She Wins
Christine Jennings lost the race to replace U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris in Congress by fewer than 400 votes. Machine and manual recounts affirmed the margin, yet Jennings filed a lawsuit Monday seeking a new election.

Jennings' race against Republican Vern Buchanan was among the most vicious in the recent election - Jennings and her "dangerous ideas," Buchanan and his shady past.

On Election Day, some 18,000 Sarasota voters skipped making a choice in the race. Since then we've heard about "irregularities," problems with electronic voting machines and complaints about ballot design. But as far as we know, no one has offered proof that the election was fixed or otherwise manipulated.

Yet Jennings wants another vote. What then? What if only one-fourth of the voters who went to the polls Nov. 7 show up and Jennings wins? What does she say to the Buchanan voters she disenfranchised from the first race? How can Jennings divine the reason voters skipped her race? She cannot.

Jennings should take a cue from George Allen and Conrad Burns, U.S. senators who lost close re-election campaigns. Both are bowing out gracefully. So should she.

Bradenton Herald: Give It Up - Jennings should concede race to Buchanan

Republican Vern Buchanan has been officially certified as the winner of the District 13 congressional race. The state Elections Canvassing Commission said Monday that Buchanan won by 369 votes over Democrat Christine Jennings.

And that should settle what was one of the most bitterly-fought and closest election battles in memory, with Buchanan's fractional margin out of more than 237,000 votes cast once again emphasizing the importance of citizens exercising their right and privilege to vote.

But the lawsuit is likely to have the opposite effect. The more the Jennings camp - aided by out-of-state advocates for the Democratic Party and other special interests - casts doubts on the election process, the less likely voters are to believe in and participate in that process. This will do a far greater disservice to democracy than one disputed race in one election cycle.

We understand and appreciate Jennings' disappointment at losing by such a close margin, especially with some voters' accounts of difficulty dealing with the new touch-screen technology. But the election is over; a winner has been certified. It's time to move on.

We will update as more newspapers add their voice.

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