Team's Lead Investigator, Alec Yasinsac --- a Noted Republican Partisan --- Claims No Knowledge of Voting Machine Company's Pre-Testing Dictates...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2007, 1:51pm PT  

Over the weekend we reported on the newly unearthed "agreement" letter sent by voting machine company ES&S to Florida's chief of Voting System Certification, David Drury, dictating the company's demands for the narrow terms of testing for the source code and hardware of the touch-screen voting systems which failed so spectacularly in the state's 13th Congressional District election between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R) last November.

In the still-contested election, an exceedingly high 18,000 "undervotes" were registered by the ES&S touch-screen DRE voting systems in Democratic-leaning Sarasota County only, in the race which was ultimately decided by 369 votes in favor of the Republican.

In our coverage, we asked a series of questions about the letter and whether the "independent" team of scientists convened by the state to review the source code had been apprised of ES&S's very strict litany of specific narrow conditions for testing (including their insistence that they be allowed to review, edit and/or comment on the final report before its release).

Yesterday, Alec Yasinsac, the "Lead Principal Investigator" of the scientific panel convened at Florida State University --- a noted Republican partisan --- released a response to some of questions [PDF] on behalf of the state-convened panel of scientists.

The bulk of that response follows, as well as a comment or two of our own in response...

"This letter was not provided, or its terms presented, to the SAIT review team before or during the software review. No member of the team agreed to the terms of
the letter either before, during or after the review, and no member was or is bound by those terms.

"The official Statement of Work deviates significantly from the guidelines. Moreover, there were no terms or limitations on the team beyond those established and publicly posted in the official Statement of Work:


"No one from either ES&S or the Florida Department of State attempted to influence the team's work or its report in any way other than to offer/provide resources as we recorded in the final report:


The response to the questions from the scientific team is much appreciated. We look forward to a response, in kind, from Florida's Chief Voting System Certification Officer, including the specific response he gave to ES&S in the wake of the "agreement" they sent him.

That said, checking the "properties" of the PDF "team response" from the scientists reveals that Yasinsac himself is specified as the author of the response. (We've saved a copy of it, in case the version at Yasinsac's FSU site changes for some reason.)

As we have reported on several occassions, as well as tried to explain personally to some of Yasinsac's many supporters and defenders in the scientific community, his partisan ties --- he was seen, for example, wearing a "Bush Won" button on the stairs of the Florida Supreme Court back during FL's 2000 Election Debacle --- will always raise questions about his independence on behalf of the state investigation which he was named to lead. That's a fact, whether he proceeded on a partisan basis with the study or not. Thus, many of us called for his removal from the panel early on.

We're still mired in that same questionable quagmire even when Yasinsac releases a comment like the one above on behalf of the team of scientists. All of which underscores the continuing need for a truly independent source code review as has been requested time and again by the plaintiff attorneys representing the two state lawsuits contesting the election on behalf of Sarasota County voters and Christine Jennings herself.

This is why both transparency and minding even the appearance of conflict of interest matters. As well as why Drury himself, as the man responsible for certifying the systems for the state of Florida, and thus having a conflict of interest as well, should never have been any where near such a test --- at least if such a test was meant to truly get to the bottom of what happened in the election on behalf of the voters of Florida.

It goes without saying, by now, that private companyies such as ES&S, Diebold, Sequoia, Hart Intercivic, and all the rest, have no damn business running our public elections with their secret, proprietary, trade-secret protected voting systems.