Skip to comments.U.S. House is final word on seat (House May Declare Dem the Winner, Despite Vote Totals)
Posted on 11/17/2006 11:05:08 AM PST by RWR8189
WASHINGTON - If a recount in Sarasota fails to award Democrat Christine Jennings a seat in Congress, she has a final recourse: The newly Democratic-controlled U.S. House.
A little-known provision in the U.S. Constitution gives the House the final decision on who sits in its chamber.
House staffers have already been dispatched to Sarasota to monitor the recounts, and both candidates in District 13 - Jennings and Republican Vern Buchanan - say they are aware that a disputed election could be appealed to Washington.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida Democrat working with Jennings, said she hopes it wouldn't come to that, but she wouldn't rule out anything that would help determine if voters were disenfranchised.
"All options are on the table," she said. "We're going to explore any available option."
Still, House members and political observers say either party would be reluctant to take up a case that would lead to partisan warfare.
"I can't imagine that would happen," said Rep. Ric Keller, R-Orlando. "I don't think you'd want this to be settled by partisan politics."
Though it has happened before.
In 1984, the House refused to seat an Indiana Republican who narrowly beat his Democratic opponent in a race marred by ballot problems.
Instead, the Democratic-controlled House ordered a recount using its own rules, handing the victory to the Democrat.
Weeks later, 179 Republican members stormed out of the Capitol to protest what they described as a stolen election.
Rep. C.W. Bill Young, an Indian Shores Republican who was in office during the Indiana vote, said he didn't much care for the House getting involved then and wouldn't care much for it now - particularly because the Democrats will take control of the House in January.
"We prefer the decision be made by voters in the congressional district," Young said. "I prefer that the Republican win, obviously, and the original count favored Buchanan."
Buchanan led Jennings by 377 votes after the first count. With a recount underway, both chose to attend freshman orientation for House members in Washington this week.
Jennings is challenging the result because touch screen voting machines in Sarasota County recorded that 18,382 people, or 13 percent of all voters, did not vote for either candidate, a rate much higher than in other counties in the district.
Members of seven voter advocacy groups Wednesday called for a new vote and an outside investigation into Sarasota's voting system. They planned to collect stories of disenfranchised voters at a meeting there today.
A recount of the touchscreen totals and optical scan absentee ballots was completed late Tuesday, giving Buchanan a 401-vote lead. A manual recount will begin today, and those results are expected to be certified by the state Monday.
Each candidate has 30 days from then to ask the House Administration Committee to investigate, which usually takes a few weeks to several months.
Since 1993, about 105 such cases have been sent to committee but only a handful have made it to the full House for a vote.
Usually the committee dismisses the case, though it could recommend to the full House that it order a new recount or new vote. The House could also simply refuse to seat the presumed winner, leaving the seat vacant or filling it with someone else.
As it tends to do for extremely close races, the committee has already sent a team of staffers, consisting of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, to monitor the recount.
In this case, any investigation and resolution by the House or its committee is virtually guaranteed to take place after the Democrats take over Congress in January.
Rep. Allen Boyd, a North Florida farmer who is co-leader of the Blue Dogs conservative Democratic group, welcomed Jennings to its ranks Wednesday and said he's hoping she'll be able to stay.
He said it's too early to start talking about the House making a decision in the election but if it does: "We're in charge. Absolutely she'll get a fair shot."
OK, thanks. Boy how did they get that in there?
"Boy how did they get that in there? "
In the end, if things keep going as they are, the people will cry for a King or will welcome a dictator.
Hahahaha! You people still vote?!
That's what I posted before the election: it will be mighty difficult to vote them out because the RATS will "legalize" fraud.
Now that we are out of the House, it has become the Out-House.
That would require that Republicans find the courage to stand up and fight back, something that to date, Republicans have failed time and time again to do, which has in no small part resulted in the situation they find themselves in today.
We can only hope that they have learned a lesson from this, and will now do what we've been trying to tell them to do for the past 6 years. "Stand up and fight back, you sissies"!
They got away with it in our last governors race here in Washington.
I don't know why they wouldn't take this up during the lame duck session first, if it comes to that.
They are doing their best here..They are lining up the kooks to claim they voted and it did not count their vote....It is a total sham...They also brought in a guy who was responsible for trying to stop the military vote in the Bush and Gore election....There was a military group who protested today...I was not aware of it till to late or I would have attended....I am afraid it might happen...Vern is a huge millionaire and he will fight it......
I think there should be a measure to allow a second election in cases like this
if the machines were faulty then 18,000 people were disenfranchised unfairly
or simply, the 18,000 disenfranchised voters get a chance to re-vote
It is TOTAL BS. There are plenty of races I intentionally undervote either because I don't know who I want to vote for, or because I want to "send a message" to someone. If *I* undervote a race, it's because I meant to. How DARE someone come along and claim I intended to vote it.
HOLD ON A MINUTE!
Aren't the REPUBLICANS STILL IN CONTROL OF BOTH CHAMBERS??? Why don't they just nullify the counts of the November 7 election, and decide the Democrats who WON on that day are UNFIT to hold office??? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
The Republican leadership will never have the backbone to use the stealing of an election in this fashion to fight the rats. Thank you country club republicans for a party heritage of spinelessness.
Sorry I meant undervote.....Late in the day...Wes
Buchanan won. Period. End of story.
This is sore Loserman/Obragore nonsense all over again...
"If it isn't close, they can't cheat."