Our Team of Election Scrutineers
John Roberts Brakey
John Brakey is the director and co-founder of AUDIT Elections USA. (AUDIT is an acronym for Americans United for Democracy, Integrity and Transparency), a 501(c)3 NGO that advocates and litigates for public oversight of federal, state, and local elections. AUDIT USA evolved from AUDIT AZ, which Mr. Brakey co-founded in 2004.
Mr. Brakey’s signature phrase, “Elections must be transparent, trackable, and publicly verified,” is becoming ingrained in the language of politicians and election integrity advocates across the U.S.
All the efforts of AUDIT USA revolve around this concept, including the fight for hand-marked paper ballots; opposition to ballot-marking devices (BMDs) for all voters; and the ongoing effort in multiple states to require the retention of ballot images and make those images a public record.
AUDIT USA’s successful litigation in 2016 forced Arizona counties to preserve ballot images and the organization’s current litigation in Arizona will make ballot images a public record. AUDIT USA’s current litigation in Florida will require Florida counties to retain ballot images in accordance with state and federal laws. AUDIT USA has been the primary driving force in the U.S. behind the increasing recognition of ballot images as vitally important, redundant election records that must be retained and must be available to the public.
Mr. Brakey’s tireless advocacy is an inspiration to those who work with him. He believes in building a “horizontal” organization that educates, empowers, and collaborates with local groups in different states to assist them in developing their own advocacy efforts. Election transparency and public oversight are the goals that motivate Mr. Brakey to travel extensively around the U.S. to meet with a variety of election integrity advocates and organizations. Mr. Brakey returned in May 2022 from a 10-day trip to North Carolina where he worked with Transparent Elections NC, to help that organization develop its advocacy goals and plans.
Co-Founder and Treasurer
Arlene Leaf’s involvement in the movement for election integrity began the day after the 2004 election and Ohio fiasco.
Notably, she worked with John Brakey and others to investigate and expose the fraudulent Tucson bond election a year and a half later.
Arlene has served AUDIT-AZ and now AUDIT-USA as treasurer as well as editor, sounding board, and a key part of the organizations’ support system.
“Everyone can participate in overseeing that votes are counted accurately,” she says.
She looks forward to the work of AUDIT-USA making that a reality.
Founder and president of Sautter Communications and Films, Chris Sautter is a nationally recognized political media strategist, award-winning documentary filmmaker, election attorney, and university professor.
Sautter is best known for his expertise in election disputes, having worked as an attorney or consultant on nearly every major national recount since helping Democrat Frank McCloskey win a four-vote victory in 1984-85 in Indiana’s “Bloody 8th” congressional district—a race that remains the closest U.S. House race in modern history.
His work on behalf of Al Gore in the 2000 Florida recount was profiled in the New Republic, singled out by the late syndicated columnist Robert Novak, and praised by Jeffrey Toobin in his book Too Close To Call.
Sautter served as a lead attorney in Al Franken’s U.S. Senate 2008- recount in Minnesota. Jay Weiner, author of This Is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Recount, pegged him “unquestionably the most experienced recount lawyer in the country” and “the go-to-guy on the Franken recount team.”
Sautter co-authored The Recount Primer (1994) and teaches election law including a course on recounts as an adjunct professor at American University.
More recently, Sautter served as an attorney for Bernie 2016, the Bernie Sanders for President campaign, directing voter protection activities. He also helped direct voter protection for the Hillary Clinton for President campaign in Florida during the 2016 general election campaign.
In 2018, he represented the Florida Democratic Party in two statewide recounts. Currently, Sautter is special counsel to AUDIT Elections USA, directing litigation for the organization.
Susan Pynchon is working with AUDIT USA as part of its core team leading up to the 2020 election. Ms. Pynchon is assisting with research, and preparation of “track condition reports” in targeted states. She assists AUDIT USA Director John Brakey in building and supporting coalitions of election-integrity advocates in those states.
Ms. Pynchon is also the Executive Director of Florida Fair Elections Coalition (FFEC), which she co-founded) in 2004. Under her leadership, FFEC has become a respected entity known for its nonpartisan dedication to fair, transparent, verifiable, accessible, and secure elections.
Ms. Pynchon fought against the use of paperless touchscreen voting machines in Florida and for optical scan voting systems that count hand-marked paper ballots. In 2007, then-Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced that Florida would switch completely to paper ballots in time for the 2008 General Election.
In 2008, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida selected Ms. Pynchon as one of four recipients of its statewide, annual Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award for “defending voting rights in Florida.” Ms. Pynchon remains an advocate of hand-marked paper ballots. She is also a proponent of saving the digital ballot images of hand-marked paper ballots and using those digital images to assist election administrators and the public in auditing, adjudicating, and verifying election results.