House Administration Committee Looks Into Sarasota Vote

By David Bruggeman
April 17, 2007

This morning a Task Force of the Committee on House Administration held a closed meeting regarding the voting irregularities in Sarasota County’s election for the 13th District seat. The Task Force is headed by Representative Charles Gonzalez of Texas. The Task Force was formed in late March, as noted in the committee press release currently on the front page of the committee’s website.

The letter referenced in the press release is discussed further in this article. In short, ES&S, the manufacturer of the iVotronic machines used in Sarasota County, notifed the county of a “flaw that sometimes caused machines to respond slowly to a voter’s touch ‘beyond the normal time a voter would expect to have their selection highlighted.'” Given the undervote issue in the Sarasota votes, this is a potential cause for some of those undervotes. If a voter did not touch the machine long enough, due to the flaw, then the vote would not have been registered.

The company notified Sarasota County in September 2006, and noted that the software patch could not have been certified in time for the primary election that month. They provided a sign to notify voters, but the local officials used other signage. In the primary and general elections, there were several voter complaints, which Wired recently reviewed and analyzed. The analysis suggests that 19 precincts suffered problems consistent with those expected from the flaw noted by ES&S.

This may come up for discussion in a hearing scheduled for tomorrow. This time a subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on fairness in elections involving electronic voting machines. Witnesses will include a Commissioner from the Election Assistance Commission, the Missouri Secretary of State, and a Government Accountability Office researcher. We will attend the hearing, and you can expect a blog post on the matter (along with any additional information that comes from today’s Task Force meeting).