Breaking Fl-13: New Undisclosed Letter Of Agreement From ES To State Unearthed!
Terms of 'Independent' State Run Audit, Source Code Review Dictated by Voting Machine Company to Florida State Election
Director Prior to Tests of Failed Touch-Screen Voting Systems from Contested Jennings/Buchanan Election!
The private voting machine company which manufactured the touch-screen hardware and software used during Sarasota,
Florida's contested District 13 Congressional election between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R) sent a
letter in December of 2006 to David Drury, the chief of the state's Bureau of Voting Systems Certification, dictating
the terms of the state-run audit convened to investigate the causes for massive undervote rate which seems to have
tipped the election.
The extraordinary 3-page letter (posted in full at the end of this article) from Electronic Systems & Software, Inc. (ES) Vice President, Steven Pearson, is described as an "agreement" and instructs Drury on what may and may not be
disclosed in the state's final audit report regarding the investigation.
The audit, for which ES was dictating terms to the state of Florida, was of their own voting systems used in the disputed race where 18,000
undervotes were discovered in the FL-13 election. The race was ultimately certified by the state with a 369 vote margin
in favor of the Republican Buchanan, and is currently being contested in state court, and in Congress under the Federal
Contested Elections Act.
"David, below are ES source code review guidelines for the conduction of any review of source code to be performed by the Department of
State and any agent acting on your behalf as a result of the under vote investigation from the Sarasota County mid-term
election. It is our desire the methodology and focus of the review be performed in a manner that incorporates the items
described below," the agreement begins, before including a long, bullet-pointed and very narrow litany of specific
dictates concerning what may and may not be done and/or discussed by the state-convened panel of investigators in their
"The review needs to be focused on a singular purpose," Pearson instructs, before explaining that the testing is to
focus solely on whether or not "code or logic exists in the software that would have directly and conclusively caused
voter selections to not have been captured or to have been omitted for the U.S. House of Representative District 13
contest in the Florida 2006 General Election in Sarasota County."
"Any analysis, statement, inference, or comment that is outside the discovery of such software is not relevant and is
outside the scope and boundary of this source code review," Pearson writes before listing dozens of bullet point
instructions for what may and may not be allowed in both the review and final report.
He goes on to instruct Drury that ES must be allowed to review "any drafts, statements, reports or conclusions...prior to finalization, distribution,
publication" of the report and that any violation thereof would be in violation of the agreement" leading to the
destruction of "all copies" of such information.
Further, Pearson wrote, ES demanded "the opportunity to provide commentary to be interspersed into the report or to be attached to the report."
The long list of ES narrow dictates of what may or may not be discussed in the state report, which was finally released last month
to much criticism from Jennings
, includes (but is not limited to):
• No statements about "potential" situations
• No statements that discuss what "might" have occurred
• No statements about possible "vulnerabilities"
• No statements about the "style" of the source code
• No statements commenting on the use of less desirable techniques, instructions, or constructs
• No statements rendering opinions on proper uses, improper use, or correctness of source code
• No statements rendering opinions on security techniques employed or not employed
• No statements discussing relevance of any discoveries made in this review to any elections or contests outside
the 2006 Sarasota General Election, U.S. House of Representative District 13 race.
• No statements regarding conformance to source code standards of any type or kind
The letter instructs, "If no conclusive evidence is found then all other statements are not necessary" and explains that
"any conclusion" made by the state review "must be drawn based upon with the following foundational basis and underlying
assumptions." A number of such assumptions are then listed: that "physical security of all voting system equipment and
and materials...has been maintained" and "physical chain of custody for all materials...has not been broken or
The remarkable letter was faxed to WIRED reporter, Kim Zetter after her coverage
of a warning notice sent by ES to state officials, warning of a bug in their touch-screen voting system which could have caused the unusually large
undervote rate seen in the FL-13 election (18,000 undervotes in a race decided by 369 votes). The bug was not fixed in
Sarasota County prior to the election, and the warning letter, which we covered here
, was never disclosed to the plaintiff's attorneys now contesting the election in state court.
Zetter covers the newly unearthed ES letter
in her blog and includes the full letter on three different web pages. All three pages of the letter are posted in full
Just a few of the questions which occur to The BRAD BLOG
now, in light of the discovery of this letter:
• Although the letter is described as an "agreement" it is signed only by ES did Florida officials agree to ES's terms of testing?
• Were the computer scientists convened by the state apprised of these terms?
• Was the final report shown to ES before publication?
• If so, did they exercise their stated desire to edit the report and/or "provide commentary...interspersed into
the [final] report?
• Was this document ever revealed to plaintiff's attorneys contesting the election?
The December 15, 2006 letter from ES Vice President of Certification, Steven Pearson, to Florida's Bureau of Voting Systems Certification Chief David Drury
follows in full below...
IN PDF FORMAT AT KIM ZETTER"S BLOG: