BERKELEY, CA: Tech firm Eastwick Communications is helping a group of Berkeley graduate students and professors publicize potentially explosive findings about e-voting irregularities from this year's presidential election.
What began as a post-election project by a group of graduate students at the University of California at Berkeley blossomed into a full-fledged staff-supported research effort.
But the findings - namely that President Bush might have gotten 260,000 extra votes in Florida because of electronic irregularities - raised concerns among the students that their work would be dismissed as a case of liberal sour grapes.
So Eastwick was brought in to position the study as a scientific work.
"We advised the team to focus on e-voting as the theme, rather than the Florida election," said Eastwick VP Giovanni Rodriguez, who worked with the team pro bono.
The findings were presented to the media at a November 18 campus press conference. Giovanni said his firm was adamant about not indulging reporters who were likely to write sour- grapes stories and instead focused on the team's credibility.
Giovanni said the research received coverage in the AP, UPI, San Jose Mercury News, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Baltimore Sun, and nearly all national TV networks.
"[This] was the first academic study of the 2004 election," he added. "There have been stories about e-voting, but a voice in academia was missing."
On November 23, a group of congressional Democrats who have called for a federal probe of the election announced that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) would investigate complaints about irregularities with voting machines and provisional ballots. The GAO did not make an official announcement of its investigation.