Today’s Audit Unlikely to Yield Useful Information About Sarasota County Voting Machines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 28, 2006

Contact: Nick Berning or Drew Courtney at PFAW Foundation

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

Audit structure, as well as credibility and impartiality of auditors, has been called into question

SARASOTA—Today’s audit of Sarasota County voting machines appears likely to disappoint Floridians who want answers about the more-than-18,000-person undervote in the congressional race here.

The audit, which begins today and continues on Friday, has serious structural flaws, and the credibility and impartiality of some of the auditors has been called into question. Only ten machines are being examined in the audit, and only five of those machines—the ones to be examined on Friday—were actually used in the election. Roughly 1,500 machines were in use in Sarasota County on Election Day.

“Floridians wondering how more than 18,000 votes went missing in the congressional race here are unlikely to find answers from this audit,” said People For the American Way Foundation Florida Legal Counsel Reggie Mitchell. “This audit is looking at less than one percent of the machines that were in use in Sarasota County on Election Day, and that’s not going to provide us with enough evidence to get to the bottom of this debacle.”

“Additionally,” Mitchell continued, “instead of the independent audit that People For the American Way Foundation and others have called for, this audit is being conducted by individuals who have an interest in finding that these machines functioned properly, even though that is clearly not the case.”

People For the American Way Foundation has previously criticized the selection of two individual members of the audit team because of questions about their impartiality and competence: Alec Yasinsac, who wore a “Bush Won” sticker during the 2000 presidential recount, and David Drury, who was responsible for certifying the machines in question and has a clear stake in the outcome of the investigation.

Doubts about the usefulness of the audit are being reflected in press coverage across Florida. “An audit to nowhere?” asked a St. Petersburg Times news headline yesterday. And today, Miami Herald writer Fred Grimm wrote that “No one really thinks [the] paperless, virtual audit that begins today will find 18,300 votes that disappeared.”