Florida e-vote audit criticized by Jennings, activists

A state audit that found no errors by electronic voting machines in last November's controversial congressional race in Sarasota County, Fla., has come under fire from several voting activists for its lack of independent analysis.

The state Division of Elections undertook the audit after Democrat Christine Jennings the 13th District House seat by 369 votes to Republican Vern Buchanan. In that election, nearly 18,000 ballots left the race blank, prompting complaints that the undervote was caused by defective e-voting machines.

Then-Secretary of State Sue Cobb requested the audit to determine whether mechanical errors or other e-voting processes caused the so-called undervote. The district uses iVotronic touch-screen systems from Election Systems & Software Inc. (ES&S) of Omaha, Neb.

Current Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning announced on Friday that the audit found that the machines were not defective and did not cause an undervote. "The audit team concluded that there is no evidence that suggests the official results are in error, and further concludes that the results of the November 7, 2006, election in Sarasota County are accurate," Browning said in a statement.

He also noted that a separate study of the iVotronic hardware and software by the Security and Assurance in Information Technology (SAIT) Lab at Florida State University found no mechanical cause for the undervote.

Both the Jennings camp and voter activists immediately denounced the audit report as inaccurate.