More and more Election Integrity advocates and groups are now joining the drumbeat calling for a complete re-vote on paper ballots in the mess that has become U.S. House race in Florida's 13th congressional district in Sarasota. The BRAD BLOG also calls for a complete paper-based revote as the only way to ensure the voter's voice will be heard.
There are fewer than 400 votes separating Vern Buchanan (R) and Christine Jennings (D) in the race to fill (ironically enough) former SoS Katherine Harris's seat. And yet, a full 18,000 votes have gone missing, recorded as undervotes on the paperless ES&S touch-screen systems that failed during the election.
The People for the American Way Florida have issued a press release (posted in full at the end of this article) calling for a complete re-vote, as well as expressing their criticism of the Jeb Bush Administration appointment of a rabid Bush-partisan and paper "trail" opponent to head an audit to figure out what went wrong.
The National Voting Rights Institute yesterday called for a full re-vote as well, saying in their press release, "Public confidence in the vote-counting process is a bedrock principle of any democracy. In Florida's 13th Congressional District, it is clear that only a revote with the option of hand-recorded paper ballots will ensure that voters in that district can trust that their votes will be properly counted."
Common Cause has similarly called for an investigation into what happened in FL-13 and said the vote should not be certified as is. As well, their announcement calls for the immediate passage of Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) HR550 election reform legislation, which is currently supported by some 220 bi-partisan House members. Unfortunately, HR550 would not have guaranteed the problems in FL-13 would have been avoided, as it only calls for paper records as opposed to the much needed paper ballot required for every vote cast. So-called paper "trails" on the touch-screen systems down in Florida would not have avoided the problem we're now facing and, in fact, would likely have exacerbated them by giving voters and elections officials a false sense of security. Paper "trails" on touch-screen DRE machines are not reliable or accurate, they fail consistently, can be gamed quite easily, and frequently cannot be actually verified by the voters.
Finally, Election Integrity organization VelvetRevolution.us (of which The BRAD BLOG is co-founder) goes further still in both calling for a full paper-based re-vote as well as demanding the resignation of failed Sarasota Supervisor of Elections, Kathy Dent.
Dent failed the voters in Flordia's 13th district and across the entire county, by fighting to ensure they would not have any means of avoiding such problems when she insisted on untested, inaccurate electronic touch-screen systems without paper ballots --- or even paper trails that could have been used to mitigate a disaster such as the one now facing her.
She should resign immediately, along with Secretary of State Sue M. Cobb and the other officials directly responsible for this debacle.
The full press release from People For the American Way Florida follows below...
UPDATE 5:00pm Three more groups, Voter Action, ACLU, and Electronic Frontier Foundation, also now announce their call for a re-vote and investigation. Their press release follows in full below now as well...
November 16, 2006
Nick Berning, 703-587-4454
Drew Courtney, 202-467-4999
In response to the decision by the administration of Florida Governor Jeb Bush to appoint Alec Yasinsac to carry out an inspection of Sarasota County voting machines, the nonpartisan People For the American Way Foundation's Florida Legal Counsel Reggie Mitchell issued the following statement:
“I know Alec Yasinsac well, and while he’s a great guy, he’s the wrong choice to lead an investigation into what went wrong in Sarasota County. We need an independent investigator, not someone whose partisan leanings have been clear since the 2000 voting fiasco.
“Alec is a strong advocate for electronic voting machines and a vociferous opponent of requiring a voter verifiable paper trail. In 2000, he wore a button reading ‘Bush Won’ while working against a recount in the presidential race. He clearly has preexisting biases. This situation requires a truly independent investigation that will get to the bottom of this problem in a nonpartisan fashion, and help to ensure that these problems never occur again. Sarasota County voters, Florida and the nation deserve no less.”
PFAWF is cosponsoring a public hearing tonight at the Hyatt Sarasota to take testimony from voters, poll workers and others who experienced problems voting in the race for Florida’s 13 Congressional District in Sarasota County. A massive undercount in that race has potentially disenfranchised 21,000 voters. A manual recount is underway, but Mitchell and other advocates argue that votes that were never recorded cannot be recounted.
PFAWF has called for an independent, nonpartisan investigation of the voting problems experienced in Sarasota County in the race to fill Florida’s 13 Congressional District seat. PFAWF has also called for a re-vote to allow voters to cast their ballots in the race. The candidates are currently separated by less than 400 votes.
212.584.5000 x 327 / c.646.623.7998
NOT ADDRESSED BY RECOUNT, GROUPS SAY;
NEW COALITION FORMS TO SAFEGUARD VOTERS’ RIGHTS
Sarasota, FL: The push for a formal, in-depth investigation into the 18,000 missing votes of Sarasota County, led by nonpartisan group Voter Action, gained momentum today as Voter Action announced that the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, People for the American Way Foundation, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are joining the effort. All four groups emphasize the need for an independent investigation in order to get to the bottom of the problem and safeguard elections for the future.
Voter Action has been working in Florida since the election, in response to calls to its national election hotline and news reports. The group, which has filed suits against electronic voting system insecurities across the country since 2004, joined forces with concerned Florida citizen activists and election reform groups to mount their own investigation into why an electronic voting system failed to record more than 18,000 votes in Florida’s District 13 congressional election on November 7th.
“18,000 missing votes, and officials say they’re conducting a recount. How do you recount votes that are missing from the electronic machines? When you push the same button, the machine says the same thing. We need to know what went wrong inside the machines – an explanation that goes deeper and that squares with what voters say they saw on Election Day,” said Holly Jacobson, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Voter Action.
“The massive disenfranchisement of voters can never be allowed to happen again, in Sarasota County or anywhere else in the United States. Voter Action is investigating all available evidence as to what happened, the number of voters affected, and why this has happened,” said Lowell Finley, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Voter Action.
Voter Action is a national non-profit, nonpartisan advocacy group that provides legal, research and organizing support to ensure election integrity in the U.S. Voter Action has been on the forefront of election integrity movement and has successfully challenged the use of unreliable and untrustworthy electronic voting equipment across the nation.
In January of 2005, Voter Action filed a lawsuit in New Mexico to block all electronic voting systems leading the state to halt it’s purchase of touch screen voting systems and move to an all paper ballot system which they transitioned to successfully in November 2006. In California, Voter Action filed suit against the use of Diebold Tsx touch screen voting systems and immediately entered into agreements with half of the counties to stop the use of touch screen voting systems. And in September of this year the Voter Action legal team in Colorado received a favorable ruling – essentially decertifying all of the electronic voting systems after the mid –term election cycle. Voter Action has filed similar actions in Arizona, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.