GAO issues report on missing votes in Sarasota

02/07/08 Robert Lorei
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The Associated Press is reporting that:

"Touch-screen voting machines likely performed properly and were not to blame for the large number of undervotes in a congressional race in 2006, as the loser has suggested, federal investigators said in a draft report obtained Wednesday by the Associated Press.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office plans to present the report Friday to a House task force that has been investigating the 13th Congressional District election. Republican Vern Buchanan beat Democrat Christine Jennings by 369 votes to win the seat 15 months ago.

At issue was whether malfunctioning ATM-style voting machines failed to record more than 18,000 votes in the congressional election, or whether many voters — nearly 15 percent of the total — just skipped that particular race on their touch-screen ballots.

Jennings has asked Congress to throw out the election results, claiming that the Sarasota County voting machines failed to count the votes. Buchanan was declared the winner after two recounts and a state audit found no problems with the machines.

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, plans to tell task force members that while they can't provide 'absolute assurance' that the voting machines didn't contribute to the large number of undervotes, testing 'significantly reduced the possibility" that the machines were to blame. Voters themselves are more likely to blame, the report said."

Were joined by Kindra Muntz of the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE) to talk about the GAO report and a previous study by an independent group which came to a different conclusion.

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