Florida Elections Officials Attempt to Blame Voters for Mismanaged Election

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2006

Contact: Drew Courtney or Nick Berning (PFAW Foundation) - 202-467-4999 | Holly Jacobson (Voter Action) - 206-723-1941 | at Brandon Hensler (ACLU Foundation of Florida) - 786-363-2700 | Matt Zimmerman (Electronic Frontier Foundation) - 415-948-5600

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Florida Elections Officials have sent interrogatory questions to Florida voters suing the state for a revote in the 13th congressional district election in Sarasota County. The questions ask the plaintiffs to reveal portions of their medical records, to state whether or not they drank on Election Day, and to list medications and other drugs they may have been taking.

Voter advocacy groups representing the plaintiffs objected to the questions as insulting and intrusive.

“This is truly outrageous,” said Reggie Mitchell, Florida Legal Counsel of People For the American Way Foundation. “It’s shocking that the state would rather blame the people who lost their right to vote than pay attention to the real issue: the fallibility of the machines. They should be embarrassed for casting baseless aspersions on the voters.”

“Governor Bush and his Secretary of State, Sue Cobb, owe an apology to the voter plaintiffs and to the thousands of Sarasota County citizens whose votes were lost by touchscreen voting machines,” said Lowell Finley, lead counsel for the voter plaintiffs and Co-director of Voter Action. “They insist against all evidence that these computerized machines can do no wrong, and lash out instead at the voters who were wronged. It is time for them to stop hiding behind the secrecy claims of voting machine companies and start championing voter interests.”

“Insulting voters who encountered problems with iVotronic voting machines will not answer the question of whether or not these machines failed during the November general election,” said Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Matt Zimmerman. “Florida’s state election officials — and the voters of the 13th Congressional District — would be better served if those officials supported our call for an independent and robust analysis of the state’s voting technology.”

“It defies credibility that 18,000 voters couldn’t see, or were impaired by drugs or alcohol when they voted, especially when most, if not all, of them managed to cast their votes in other races on the same ballot,” said Muslima Lewis, Director of the ACLU of Florida’s Racial Justice and Voting Rights Project. “These questions are a transparent attempt to shift the blame for the Sarasota election debacle onto the voters who were deprived of their right to vote. Elections officials failed in their duty to make sure that all properly cast votes are counted and should focus on fixing the problems that these voters encountered on Election Day, rather than blaming them.”


On November 20, 11 voters filed an independent suit in Tallahassee asking a state court to overturn the certification of the most recent 13th Congressional District election and order a revote. The group of voters, which includes Republicans, Democrats and No Party Affiliation voters, is represented by the nonpartisan voter advocacy groups Voter Action, People For the American Way Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the ACLU Foundation of Florida.