Sarasota Election by Mitch E. Perry

12/05/06

In Sarasota county, the computer source code that tells touch-screen voting machines how to run will be analyzed in the next phase of the state audit to determine what, if anything, went wrong in the November 7th Congressional election between Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings. Buchanan has already been certified the winner in the race.

Sarasota County's voting machines recorded 18,000 undervotes in the District 13 race, nearly three times the rate reported in neighboring counties.

The source code review is to determine if the machines were programmed in a way that altered what voters saw on the touch-screen or how their votes were recorded.

It will be conducted in Tallahassee, though when has not been determined.

Lawyers for Christine Jennings and voting groups have filed lawsuits seeking an independent review of the source code, which is kept secret on behalf of the manufacturer to guard against hacking and piracy.

Some of those voting groups have raised objections about the state audit Their latest source of anger is a comment made in today’s Sarasota Herald Tribune by David Drury, bureau chief for the Division of Elections' Bureau of Voting Systems Certification, who is overseeing the audit. Drury said he expects “nothing� to come out of the audit.

He added, “They're not going to find anything. It is my belief, and I rarely like to speculate but it is based upon the parallel testing, that there will be nothing found in the source code that will explain the undervote."

People For the American Way Foundation’s Florida Legal Counsel Reggie Mitchell strongly criticized Drury’s comments and said they underscore the fact that this audit is far from the type of open-minded, impartial, independent investigation that voters and voter advocacy groups have called for. (roll tape#1 o.q.�to one tack or another�)

In addition to People For the American Way, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU, and the group Voter Action have joined together to seek to get access to the computer software for the ES&S machines, so that they can conduct an independent review. As it currently stands, only the voting machine manufacturer and the state’s auditors have access to the software. Again, People for the American way’s Reggie Mitchell (roll tape#2 o.q.�that they’ve certified�)

Lowell Finney told WMNF’s Rob Lorei today that, to his knowledge, there’s only 1 person who’s ever been able to gain access to ES&S’s source code (roll tape#2 o.q.�that short a time table�)

Meanwhile, in a new analysis done by the Sarasota Herald Tribune shows that nearly 60 percent of the 18,000 undervotes in the Jennings/Buchanan race came from people loyal

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