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Jennings gives up the ghost in the machine, sort of

Democrat Christine Jennings - who lost a congressional race by fewer than 400 votes - has dropped her state lawsuit against what she says were faulty voting machines in Sarasota County, but says in court filings that a congressional investigation will give her the same result.

Jennings, who lost to Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan and is challenging him for re-election, said in court papers filed in Tallahassee that the congressional probe into the voting machines "has achieved the objectives of her lawsuit" and she now "may voluntarily dismiss it."

But Florida Republican party chair Jim Greer declared victory, suggesting Jennings' prolonged battle to figure out what happened to more than 18,000 missing votes harmed her candidacy.

"While Christine Jennings finally did the right thing by giving up her frivolous lawsuit, it comes a year too late," said Greer, who sent reporters a copy of the dismissal.

Jennings has said the suit isn't about her but about what happened to the voting machines. The machines showed that more than 18,000 voters in Sarasota County cast no vote in the congressional race. Buchanan's camp has pointed to state audits that suggested there was no problem with the machines.

Investigators with the Government Accountability Office are in Sarasota this week, examining the machines. The whole matter is likely to go back before a congressional task force early next year.

UPDATE: Jennings campaign sent out a press release saying that she had "achieved the goal of having Sarasota County's voting machines independently tested. Because we accomplished this important step for reliable elections, there was no reason to continue litigation within the Florida courts."