More Questions Arise About Competence and Impartiality of Sarasota Voting Machine Auditors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 22, 2006

Contact: Josh Glasstetter at People For the American Way Foundation

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

One member of the auditing team, Bureau of Voting Systems Certification chief David Drury, previously authorized the illegal distribution of uncertified voting machines in Florida

SARASOTA COUNTY—Doubts are arising about a second member of the team assembled to audit the voting machines implicated in Sarasota County’s massive 13th Congressional District election undervote.

Audit team member David Drury is in charge of voting machine certification for the state and has a vested interest in finding that the machines he certified functioned properly. Additionally, according to a complaint filed by the Florida Fair Elections Coalition, questions about Drury’s competence have been raised by his decision earlier this year to authorize the illegal distribution of uncertified voting machines.

Drury is the second person whose participation in the audit raises concerns about conflict of interest. Last week, PFAW Foundation criticized the selection of Alec Yasinsac—a political partisan and avowed opponent of voting machine paper trails—to help lead the state’s audit.

“What we’ve learned about the members of this audit team is deeply troubling,” said PFAW Foundation Legal Director Elliot Mincberg. “Floridians deserve an impartial audit that will get to the bottom of this mess. Instead, they’re getting a biased and potentially incompetent investigation. We agree with the editorial board of the Palm Beach Post that more credibility is needed in this audit so we can all find out what went wrong with these machines.”

The problems presented by Drury’s appointment to the audit team are twofold. First, Drury, who is the chief of the Florida Bureau of Voting Systems Certification, certified the machines in question. More troubling, according to the Florida Fair Elections Coalition complaint, earlier this year, Drury provided a letter to a voting machine manufacturer giving it permission to ship uncertified voting machines to its Florida customers, but Florida law clearly requires all machines to be certified.

“Drury’s the guy who said the machines were okay to use in the first place, and now he’s being asked to investigate himself?” Mincberg asked. “It just doesn’t make sense. And that’s before you even get to the questions raised by his decision to tell one machine manufacturer that it could ignore the law and send out uncertified machines. Voters deserve better.”

In addition to PFAW Foundation, the ACLU of Florida has expressed concern about the decision to involve Yasinsac in the audit. And today, the Palm Beach Post weighed in with an editorial calling for a more “credible” and “impartial” audit (you can read that editorial here).