Fedder v. Gallagher
In November 2006, a group of voters from Sarasota County, Florida, filed a lawsuit in state court in Tallahassee seeking a revote of the 2006 election in Florida’s 13th congressional district. The lawsuit alleged that thousands of citizens were disenfranchised when a massive number of undervotes plagued the hotly contested race between Democrat Christine Jennings and Republican Vern Buchanan. While less than 400 votes separated the two candidates, more than 18,000 ballots cast on Sarasota County’s electronic voting machines registered no vote in the race, an exceptional anomaly in the state.
Status of CaseIn December 2006, Florida Circuit Judge William Gray denied the plaintiffs access to the source code of the ES&S iVotronic machines used in Sarasota County. Judge Gray ruled that ES&S’s trade secret protection trumped the plaintiffs’ interest in accessing the source code to help determine the cause of the 18,000 undervotes.
In June 2007, a Florida appellate court, ruling on an expedited appeal filed in January 2007, held that the plaintiffs had not met the “extraordinary burden” of demonstrating that Judge Gray’s decision -- denying the plaintiffs access to the software that counted votes in the 2006 election – resulted in irreparable injury for the remaining trial proceedings. On January 31, 2008, the parties jointly filed a stipulated dismissal of this case.Voter Action served as co-counsel for the plaintiffs in this case, along with the ACLU Foundation of Florida, People For the American Way Foundation, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.