UPDATE: Screenshots from the paperless ES&S voting systems, showing the controversial placement of the Jennings/Buchanan race on the ballot in Sarasota County only, are now posted EXCLUSIVELY here.
In a press conference this morning, Vern Buchanan (R) called on Christine Jennings (D) to concede in the race for the U.S. House in Florida's 13th Congressional district. In a process right out of the Bush/Cheney 2000 Florida Election debacle, the state of Florida certified the race today despite a 369 vote difference between the two and more than 18,000 still-unexplained "undervotes" registered on the paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines used in Sarasota County.
A video of Buchanan's press conference is here. A complete transcript of his obnoxious statement follows at the end of this article.
We've stayed out of the "politics" in this race up until now, arguing only that the voters of FL-13 should have their voice heard despite overwhelming evidence of voting machine malfunction. However, given Buchanan's
regrettable despicable attack on Jennings in his news conference this morning and, even more so, his attack on the non-partisan groups currently fighting for electoral integrity in the race, we've little choice but to point out the emergence of Buchanan as yet another democracy hater in Florida following the Bush/Cheney 2000 playbook almost to the reprehensible letter.
Putting his own self-interest before that of the public's, Buchanan called on Jennings "to put the interest of the public before her own self-interest," and called on his Democratic opponent --- ironcially fighting for the old seat of outgoing Katherine Harris --- to concede.
Buchanan characterized the contest filed today in court by Jennings (as we reported yesterday would be "coming soon") as "baseless litigation" and said that it's time for her to "stop listening to high-priced lawyers and out of town special interest groups who have hijacked the process to advance their own agenda."
Hijacked the process to advance their own agenda?!
What "agenda" would that be, Mr. Buchanan? The agenda of having a democracy in America?!!
Never mind Buchanan's own "high-priced" "out of town" attorneys (from Jack Abramoff's Greenburg-Traurig no less!)...is this guy kidding? Apparently not. And he's willing to say and do anything he can to undermine both voter confidence and respect for the electoral process in the bargain.
He went on to say that: "Before the polls closed on election day, the lawyers and special interest groups had mounted a deliberate and shameful attempt to erode voter confidence in the outcome of this election...Which shows the blatant disrespect for the voters and a disregard for the electorial process."
Speaking of "blatant disrespect for the voters and a disregard for the electorial process," the fact that Buchanan doesn't seem to give a damn about the 18,000 voters who were not able to vote in this election, and for whom there is no "paper trail" in Florida to even confirm his claim that the intent of those 18,000+ voters (appx. 13%) was to purposely not vote in the election speaks to a "blatant disrespect of voters" and an appalling "disregard for the electorial process" in a way that only a Republican working directly from the discredited Bush/Cheney 2000 Democracy Haters Playbook could even dream of.
The undervote rate in Sarasota county was "nearly 6 times higher than the undervote rate in the other District 13 counties or in Sarasota’s paper absentee ballots," according to a statement issued today from the Jennings camp. The undervote rate was only 2.6% for paper-based absentee ballots in the race, and elections both above the 13th district and below it on the same ballot had undervote rates of just 1 to 2%.
Buchanan's invidious presser statement ended this way: "Regardless of whether you're a Republican, a Democrat or an independent, I will listen to your concerns and fight for your issues."
Here's an issue for you, Buchanan: Respect the will of the people and their right to exercise their choice at the ballot box through a free, fair, open, reliable, verifiable, and transparent process. We have a feeling that's one "issue" you couldn't give a rat's ass about.
Buchanan's press conference this morning (with a short Q&A afterwards) is available on video here. A transcript of his statement follows in full below...
Good afternoon. We're excited to hear this morning at 9:30 the state certified us as the winner. It was a close election. This vote has been counted, re-counted and counted again.
I consider it an honor and a privilege and I'm humbled to be the lawfully elected congressman.
I regret that my opponent has brought in out of town attorneys to delay this process and challenge the validity of a lawful election.
It's time for Christine Jennings to put the interest of the public before her own self-interest and concede this election.
It is time for me to focus on hiring the top-notch team to help service this district. We should be focus [sic] on setting up the office, which we have three, providing constituent services, setting a legislative agenda and a strategy to achieve our goals on behalf of the 13th district.
We need to stop partisan politics and focus on national issues and the need of the district without the distraction of baseless litigation.
I'm calling on Christine Jennings to stop listening to high priced lawyers and out of town special interest groups who have hijacked the process to advance their own agenda and to listen to the people of the 13th district.
The people have spoken and I have won this election. I won on election night, I won in the machine recount and I won in the manual recount.
Much has been made of the 18,000 undervotes. The machines were tested, re-tested and certified by the state. There's no evidence for malfunction.
Before the polls closed on election day, the lawyers and special interest groups had mounted a deliberate and shameful attempt to erode voter confidence in the outcome of this election...Which shows the blatant disrespect for the voters and a disregard for the electorial process.
I want to thank the voters --- and I'm very humble about that --- for allowing me the opportunity to serve as their representative in Congress. Regardless of whether you're a Republican, a Democrat or an independent, I will listen to your concerns and fight for your issues.
Thank you, and now I'd like to open up to questions.