GAO Report on Florida 13

The GAO released their report on the voting machines used in the 13th congressional district election in 2006. The executive summary states:

GAO conducted three tests on the iVotronic Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems in Sarasota County and these tests did not identify any problems. Based on its testing, GAO obtained increased assurance that the iVotronic DREs used in Sarasota County during the 2006 general election did not contribute to the large undervote in the Florida-13 contest. Although the test results cannot be used to provide absolute assurance, GAO believes that these test results, combined with the other reviews that have been conducted by the State of Florida, GAO, and others, have significantly reduced the possibility that the iVotronic DREs were the cause of the undervote.

GAO’s firmware verification test showed that the firmware installed in a statistically selected sample of 115 machines used by Sarasota County during the 2006 general election matched the firmware certified by the Florida Division of Elections. The statistical approach used in selecting these machines lets GAO estimate with a 99 percent confidence level that no more than 60 of the 1,499 iVotronic DREs that recorded votes in the 2006 general election were using different firmware. Consequently, GAO is able to place more confidence in the results of other tests conducted on a small number of machines by GAO and by others, which indicated that the iVotronic DREs did not cause the undervote. GAO also confirmed that when the manufacturer rebuilt the iVotronic DRE firmware from the source code that was held in escrow by the Florida Division of Elections and previously reviewed by GAO and others, the resulting firmware matched the version certified by the Florida Division of Elections.

For the ballot test, GAO cast predefined test ballots on 10 iVotronic DREs and confirmed that each ballot was displayed and recorded accurately. GAO conducted the calibration test by miscalibrating two iVotronic DREs and casting ballots on them to validate that the machines recorded the information that was displayed on the touch screen. Based on the results of the ballot and calibration tests, GAO found that (1) the machines properly displayed, recorded, and counted the selections for all test ballots cast during ballot testing involving 112 common ways a voter may have interacted with the system, and (2) the deliberately miscalibrated machines, though difficult to use, accurately recorded the ballot selections as displayed on screen.

At this point, GAO believes that adequate testing has been performed on the voting machine software and does not recommend further testing in this area. Given the complex interaction of people, processes, and technology that must work effectively together to achieve a successful election, GAO acknowledges the possibility that the large undervote in Florida’s 13th Congressional District race could have been caused by factors such as voters who intentionally undervoted, or voters who did not properly cast their ballots on the iVotronic DRE, potentially because of issues relating to interaction between voters and the ballot.