Another key member of the House of Representatives has weighed in on the disputed Florida Congressional election, saying that not only the litigants but the House itself would benefit from more open discovery. On Thursday, the incoming Chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, which has the responsibility for evaluating any House election contest, submitted a letter to the Florida First District Court of Appeal expressing concern with the inability of the Plaintiffs to pursue their claims.
In her letter, Chairwoman Millender-McDonald (D-CA) stated:
It is [...] of concern that the parties have been unable to agree upon, and that, on December 29th, the lower court declined to order, the requested access to the hardware and software (including the source code) needed to test the contestant's central claim: voting machine malfunction.
Millender-McDonald went on to note that:
[T]he House is well served in its own deliberations by having before it a complete record. Consequently, Florida law will facilitate the evaluation of the election contest pending before the House to the extent that it provides access to relevant and critical evidence. I am confident that this can be done in a way that accommodates the valid interests of the parties, and resolution of these issues may obviate the need for the House to address them.
Millender-McDonald's letter strongly supports the positions taken by District 13 challenger Christine Jennings as well as the eleven Sarasota voters (represented by EFF, VoterAction, People for the American Way Foundation, and the ACLU of Florida) in their separate suit. Florida voters deserve and Florida law requires that challengers be given an opportunity to fully investigate legitimate claims that call into question the integrity of election results.
On December 29, 2006, the trial court denied the Plaintiffs' motions to compel the production of hardware, software, and documentation that would allow the cases to move forward. The Court of Appeals is now considering an appeal that was filed this week.