WEST PALM BEACH - A congressman's lawsuit seeking to require electronic voting machines to produce a paper trail was dismissed Wednesday when a Palm Beach County judge ruled he did not have the standing to sue.
U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, filed the lawsuit against Florida Secretary of State Glenda E. Hood and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore, claiming the use of machines that do not produce paper duplicates of the votes cast violates voters' rights.
Without that paper trail, a manual recount isn't possible, Wexler argued.
But Circuit Judge Karen Miller ruled Wexler did not have the standing to file the suit, since he could not prove he had been hurt, either as a citizen or as a public official, by the voting system. Wexler's complaints would be better addressed through legislative remedies, her order said.
Wexler said the judge's order seemed to erase Florida voters' ability to challenge the system.
"I see this as the judge dismissing Florida's voters and ... their voting rights," he said.
Hood said she was "very pleased" with the court's decision.
"We never had any doubt that, with the high level of confidence in the equipment across the state, we would continue to see accurate and secure elections," she said.
Wexler's lawyer, Jeffrey M. Liggio, said he and his client are considering turning to federal courts, refiling in Palm Beach County after tweaking their argument or filing elsewhere.
In her ruling, Miller wrote Leon County, where Hood is based, would have been the proper venue for the suit.
Miller stressed the courts have no place in determining the remedy Wexler is seeking, since it would require them to determine a system for recounts, how to fund and oversee that system and how to resolve potential problems.
She also cited a California case where a voter's claim that the lack of a paper ballot violated her right to equal protection and due process was denied. That should convince Wexler that alleging "the lack of a paper ballot violates his constitutional rights would be futile," Miller wrote.
Wexler said he wasn't deterred by her decision. "Voting rights were not won in a day," he said.
LePore could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
On the Net:
Florida Department of State: http://www.dos.state.fl.us/
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections: http://www.pbcelections.org/
U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler: http://www.wexler.house.gov/