For Updates - Post-2017 also see It's NOT good....

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Will An Independent Expert Audit of the Cuyahoga November Election Be Independent? Expert? an Audit?

In addition to agenda items on the Monday 11/27 meeting, (see entry directly below,) a group of election reform advocates of which I am a part, who have been working on getting an independent expert audit after this election, I think will be at this meeting again requesting one - a truly independent audit.

It was after I kind of "hounded" the Cuyahoga County Commissioners for a few months at the end of 2005, that they decided, before May's election, to do an independent audit for May - to check out on their own the lack of security inherent in electronic voting systems and the enormous, and constantly rising costs of it. (I did not suggest any vendors for that audit.) That resulted in the very enlightening Election Science Institute report, (see postings below) bringing to light many critical questions - that still remain - about the accuracy, operability, transparency, security and others in Cuyahoga's election system - about the Diebold system and some of the BOE leadership running our elections.

An actual audit - including not only comparing "somethings" from unknown software inside of black box machines to other such machines, but also to the voters' will - after every election - needs to be built into every county's election system after every election, so real voter confidence may truly ensue, or not.

What could be more important to democracy than knowing that the people in office as "the deciders" - even the deciders of election laws and systems - are the people that "we, the people" have chosen?

The "rub now?
On October 2, at the that meeting, Mr. Bennett said they certainly would do this "independent" audit. But the board decided that this "independent" audit will be owned and oversighted by the CCBOE! An inherent conflict of interest.

And Mr. Bennett announced that THEY will hire a firm, that will be under the direct direction of some of the same people causing all the confusions noted in earlier posts here, and the same people so scared and vested with keeping their jobs - and that the so-called "independent" firm will be hired through the 2008 presidential election! (see video link at bottom of this post.)

If one just takes a look at what happened to ESI, for saying honest things that put the board and its methods in less than perfect light in this video , you can see readily, that "the perfect light" to supposedly "maintain voter 'confidence'" is Mr. Bennett's at least, very highest priority - not the truth.

The small group of election reform advocates who have looked over the CCBOE audit RFP have made some "suggestions", like not just comparing machines to machines, and declaring "all is very well in Cuyahoga," but really trying to make our entire election system - one of the largest voting districts in the nation - a REAL democratic election. There are many specifics added to theirs, about absentee ballots, provisionals, etc. - as well as an imploring to let the Commissioners again own it and lead it.

I was at the Commissioners meeting on November 16, and they seem to have no interest (things are thick in the "dealings" of Cuyahoga.)
Their reason? They've already spent more than $14 on this election...(!!! and I add that a true looking at all expenditures would show the vast majority of that money has flowed directly from worthy taxpayer interests into Diebold's pockets. See "Mr. Vu's Next Gig?" below)

Commissioner Dimora even suggested that citizens get together and "pool our money" for such an audit! Hard to believe, but it's on tape.

I've suggested to the "RFP for independent audit advocate group" that since the CCBOE claims they have the funds for their form of "independent" audit, and since the money (to use in our best interst, not in Diebold's/or the CCBOE's) is being presented as the issue for actual independence - then we need to let the Commissioners know that since THEY appropriated those/our funds to the CCBOE, THEY need to ask for them back, and take independent ownership/oversight of this important election function.

To see the 10/2/06 CCBOE decision/version of "independence" for yourself, and some reform advocate speakers for security, immediate and post-audits - about 35 minutes in all- (I'm at the end of this one) click here. It may all sound reasonable, but if you follow along through these posts, it will become clear that what you see is not always what you get in Cuyahoga. The buzzer you hear is the 5 minute kitchen timer they run on citizen speakers. What you don't hear is the loud ticking behind us as it goes along.

Two Days Until Results Certification and "The Mystery"

The CCBOE meeting to make Cuyahoga's November 2006 results "official" will take place on Tuesday, November 28 at 11:30 am. The absentee and provisional approval meeting is tomorrow, Monday. Download two agendas here.

However, all that supposedly anyone has seen, including this observer, are numbers of ballots (not partial totals of voted choices) cast per precinct on DRE's, and the number of pages scanned- NOT even whole paper BALLOTS (and certainly not choices,) which contain 3 pages each, for absentees, provisionals, curbsides, etc. that are to be counted.
The number of these 2-sided pieces of paper are divided so far, by precinct, and then into:
•unofficially counted, then recounted absentees, minus remakes, (the number of these pages has been done and temporarily put away;)
• first time scanned absentees that came in on November 6, and 7 by deadline;
• first time scanned provisionals (including piles - certainly more than 250, but no one counted - that just "showed up" in provisional envelopes this Friday and Saturday)
• curbside votes;
• remakes of all of the above;
• remakes of remakes of all the above.

The workers are now scanning, counting by hand, tallying and totalling the numbers of sheets of paper per precinct, for all bullet points above, except for the first one that was previously done during last week. They are making sure their handcount of these sheets of paper match the scanner count. There are piles and piles and bins and bins of them. By the end of Saturday, they had finished doing the above with about 1/2 of the 1434 precincts.

It all looks so very official, and everyone is truly working very hard and seems dedicated to the task at close hand.

It looks so official and accurate, that is, until one realizes that though such accurate rectification is important if one is dealing with individual sheets of paper, 3 different of which make a ballot, we still have no idea of how all this work is relating to the voters' actual will.

It seems that in the end, the Diebold machines, with the software that tells it how to "count" the actual choices, but software that no one has seen, will at the push of a button give us - VOILA! - the election results! A bit late to begin making an attempt to sort through - even if one could. But we cannot do that properly.

Partial vote totals as we proceed certainly would be making this process alot more transparent/able to be monitored toward the actual goal. One can wonder why this has not been done.

In fact, until we get the first bullet-pointed item above also into the total number of pieces of paper per precinct, we won't even know if the current process is giving workers, totals of pieces of paper per precinct, that are evenly divisible by 3 - supposedly constituting the number of paper BALLOTS cast in that precinct - with no extra sheets in question. (Though many ballots may be rather oddly marked, I have seen that no one turns in a ballot with some pages of the 3 missing.) I would think one would at least be doing that at this point. But of course, who am I but an observer, "confined" to a chair in the middle of the "pink room".

It's easy to see how in a convoluted, large task, everyone goes into a trance of forgetting the major purpose that they are supposed to be achieving.

Supposedly, when they finish with all these pieces of paper, and with the DRE totals of numbers of ballots - TA! DA! the... Diebold button is pushed - and VOILA! - we suddenly get our election results.

Then, I understand comes the "rectification" under the direction of Mr. Vu. No one seems quite sure of what THAT process is yet. But it seems I need to be cancelling my regular appointements to be there for THAT!

Even without all the current major questions and confusions, including those with overvotes, remakes, provisionals, blank ballots, etc -
• Will there be a number of paper ballots with no extras?
• Will the number of ballots at the polls match the number of people who signed in?
• Will the official count make any sense in relationship to the unnofficial?
• How will poll worker lack of training in provisionals be taken into account to let qualified voters' votes count?
• etc.


Just what does the software/source code look like that is telling the Diebold machines how to suddenly at "the twelfth hour" create our "election results"?

After 3 weeks of this hell and all this work that seems in current process - alot of "noise" - but sadly could be put forth to many as convincing as to accuracy- very certainly our Diebold system could be skewing votes to one party or the other, it could be skipping every few, it could be set to add one for one candidate, while subtracting one for another.... the numbers can be easily changed by hand in the GEMS tabulator, could be....????
And no one would know.

In the end, and despite alot of hard, long work by many, not all, our election results are very massively confused.
But worse, with these machines, and despite good intention by many - but not assuredly by all - our election results, ie. who are our next leaders, supposedly chosen by us - still remains a complete, and able to be easily manipulated MYSTERY!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

It Gets Worse

Yesterday upon my arrival at the CCBOE, at around 3:30p, I found that in fact, Mr. Vu DID create a document about observer "rules" in response to my request - but not quite as asked for.
Dated 11/24/06, it was directed to the Guards ONLY. I never got a copy. They would not give me a copy.Now they watch me like a hawk the entire time I'm there - not just "shake me down" at access. I got to see the document briefly. They say they have "protocols". It lets them know what I - observers - of which I'm the only one - am NOT allowed to do:
  • not allowed to talk to anyone - but himself - who is rarely there (while workers are there 12-16 hours a day) and 2 others (who also see how nonsensically and "shitty" he treats me.)
  • I'm "confined" to "the pink room" - though I need to be other places to do my job ( with always requested BY ME escorts - see below... )
  • that I always need an escort (like it's his idea - and though he does not realize, (because not there) that the few who can escort me are already ultra-busy doing his job, the workers's job, and trying to supervise a by-now completly chaotic ballot handling process, which HE has given NO thought
  • that I am allowed a cell phone for calls only - see previous post discussion
  • and on....

He apparently reserves the "right" to utterly abuse his "power"with me.... to declare that if I, for instance, open my eyes, I'm infracting his "rules"

He was called yesterday to see if I was allowed to go escorted from pink room to check rejected provisionals on a public computer another had set up for me last week. I got the list I needed to check with late Wed. Was told at first yesterday, I could not use the computer for which someone needed to enter a password - because it was after hours - 5 pm and the woman had left, and she lost her cell phone. If this makes no sense to you - it's because as usual for the CCBOE, it makes no sense. Others were there working until 7:30 - Coordinators until ????

He called the BOE employee back... an hour later - to say??? But he gave his "permission" (I'm told only what others are allowed to tell me.)

That's what it's like at the CCBOE.

I guess maybe I too, would try to hide what's going on if I were him. But if I were him, it would not be... It is - as mentioned above - unauditable chaos.

For instance:
1. AFTER the "absentee "remakes of Sat/Sun (see below) - Vu appeared and decided that all those ballots that had been remade because of overvotes, had to be remade again.
  • Before, clear overvotes had been left blank on the remade ballots- so the scanner could read them the second time through.
  • Those where voters had crossed one vote off, and marked another - even where they said "yes" or "No" and initialed - clear voter intent - had been marked per intent. Vu later decided they were to be considered non-counted overvotes.
  • Before, those where confused voters had also filled in the bubble on the last blank line that was unexplained, but to be used for write-ins but also who wrote nothing in - (just indicating that they had voted that race in their minds ) - were after first remade, to be remade again, and to be considered, according to Vu - non-counted overvotes.
So according to Vu - all those votes had to be remade again..... and many less would count

2. Piles of previously unopened provisionals showed up - I estimate about 250 - ( they should have been opened in their process to get to that point) - unclear if they were OK'd or rejected. They were just put into the process.

3. Tired people, with only a tiny slice view of what they were to be doing were leaving ballots in piles all over the place.
(Have not been able to get an "escort" ( and I know why) to see downstairs and upstairs, where I imagine and understand that voted and unused ballots lay all over the place - with anyone having access.)

4. Someone had re-entered the first early at-BOE votes into DRE's yesterday - because the first week of early voting, (on DRE's) an activist had found mistakes on the first ballots, (wrong party designation for certain candidates was one mistake) which had to be reprinted/"restyled". Don't know if those "remakes" done yesterday were done with voter consent on proper ballots or not.

5. They were trying to get all paper ballots into precinct order - because the (central count, not precinct count) GEMS server that only has 2G of memory cannot handle much more. The ballot style itself takes up alot of memory - not the ballots.
So they were gathering into precincts - ballot styles, so there could be only one style at a time - already counted absentees, remaking remakes, opening newly found provisionals, sorting already handled but not counted provisionals, opening curbside votes... etc. A huge mess, with exhasuted people trying to control it. It's beyond that.

6. When I got to the computer, found some major questions in some provisionals discounted for missing info. They were active, had often voted in many recent elections, etc. Have them marked, but want to emphasize that I don't want to spend the board meeting going through the few I spot checked. I need to see those envelopes, thus reserve the right to amend the count AFTER certification.

7. Registrations given on voting day (changes of address and name, or move into county from another) attached to provisional envelopes were being tossed...until I mentioned something to one person I'm allowed to talk to -which started another whole team of workers going through piled provisional empty envelopes (kept in NO order). (Most departments, actually rightfully, with no overall guidance, think another department is going to take care of certain things - that no one is assigned to take care of...)

8. And there appears SO MUCH LEFT TO BE DONE... and redone and redone.... that finishing even this process by TUesday really looks questionable - unless someone says the heck with it, makes up counts, shoves stuff into the scanners - and says at 5am Tuesday morning, "Look we, finished!" - and Vu claims - while Bennett affirms to the denouncement of anyone who objects - everything was done absolutely correctly!

Will have more later... MUCH MORE! Unbelievable things... but not quite yet.

Most regulars there continue to tell me - as they tell each other - "just hang on" - change is coming soon.

That's not good enough. Each election changes history for us - and the candidates. (If I were a candidate and have seen what I've seen - I'd be screaming for another election - with an actual, auditable counting process - overseen by a competent, not weasley vindictive, incompetent one.

I really do wonder if Vu, after all the millions he's directed unquestioned to Diebold, whom he calls his "partner", not even a high-profit-seeking vendor, and the complete authority over our elections he's given them - except for the paper ballots about which he knows so little - will go to Diebold when he soon leaves. They do say that "like attracts like" - but one would think that even Diebold might draw a line somewhere - as low as that line is.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Observers as "suspected criminals" at CCBOE

Last Saturday, even (especially?) after the Cleveland FreeTimes article referred to below, I was again denied entry to the locked CCBOE while they processed ballots, though I showed guards bent on abusing use of force and to no interest, my credentials, the state election law allowing me entry,3505.21, and the subsequent to last weekend's court order saying I was allowed in.

  • attempted to confiscate my cell phone- though most workers were carrying them freely, and possession of cell phone was never a question at the the CCBOE. I finally put it into my car - just to get in.
  • hurled false accusations at me ( constant troublemaker, "sneaking unlawful things in all the time" - when truth is never.)
  • hurled false rules at me ( "no recording equipment or cell phones allowed in county buildings." - I take them in through security at the Justice Center, the County Commisioners, the BOE regularly)
  • forced me to walk around the front of building to the locked door, then to back employee entrance where I found a soundly sleeping guard, to then walk back outside around the building to the front ( the unlocked employee entrance where we stood inside - because no one, though I'd been requesting my due admission for days at that point, had given me any "official tags") a front door, which they would "extend me the courtesy" of unlocking. And they clearly let me know they would withhold "the courtesy"if I were not more submissive;
  • would not escort me inside to the close, in-view metal detector because of above;
  • called for "back-up" as as they were yelling falsehoods at me,so I began talking at same decibels saying truths back to them
  • had 4 sheriff's and one Cleveland policeman standing there bullying me;
  • for the "courteous search" they turned my purse completely upside down and shook it out, things rolling everywhere and picked through it, like they were planning to throw me in jail
  • confiscated blunt-edged tweezers - because they said, I would "poke someone" - tweezers that pass airport security muster, and have never been a question at any county building- and called them "sharp objects" for their report;
  • and when the called Mr. Vu, arrived for his little portion of the day - he joined in the bullying; and said the guards were making the rules (!)
  • Vu's resolution was that they should all write up "incident reports" about me for "administrative review" and his "review"! I asked for a form too to get the truth in there.
  • Vu or sheriffs, intent on making me wrong, themselves right, also had the maintenance man write up "an incident report"! - a person who certainly did not understand anything about my right to be there nor the situation, and whom I saw once briefly rolling a garbage can in the hall.
The sheriff-guards spent the afternoon, as I noted after I finally got in - going over and over and over their "incident reports - talking and comparing them with one another.

Still trying to get in, and not be thrown in jail for following this duty/right, but to demonstrate some professionality, where none is being displayed, I wrote the following email to Vu and one board member.
I have received no reply as of 11/24 - other than on 11/22 in what is pictured further below - a "professional tag" which "hisself" Vu prepared and even initialed - and which won't mean squat to weekend guards....

With no reply from board member either, don't know if they plan to surprise me at the Monday provisional review board meeting, or the Tuesday, election results certification meeting with their "review". Bob Bennett, head of Ohio GOP, and arrogant Vu puppeteer, I'm sure would salivate at the chance to get me on some good trumped up charges. I have an attorney kept thoroughly advised.

This is the email I sent:

I plan to continue fulfilling my observer role per state statute, 3505.21 through this weekend's CCBOE ballot processing.

I have been denied access the last two weekends, when the building has been locked to "outsiders" - of which I am not one, per the above law, as ballot processing and counting work was proceeding. "Rules" regarding observer access have been changed, at times on the spot, without notice or discussion. Last weekend they were created by guards with no knowledge of laws about observers; and were based on what I know are completely false statements, and completely false accusations of my "assumed -guilty" status for being there,
The only "observer rules" I have received at the CCBOE- and which I appreciated - to avoid my being falsely accused of doing something wrong, with new rules being made up on the spot - and which I have adhered to - were Jaqui Maiden's for her department, on Tuesday, 11/14, the day after the court order and communication directly with Assistant Prosecutor Lambert, finally allowing me access the first time. These guidelines and our own peaceful, professional discussions in the CVS department have allowed us all to proceed with doing what we all need to do.
I shared Jaqui's rules with the Ballot Department on 11/18, as they also had received no agency input about how to best follow this election law, so everyone involved could reasonably to do our jobs. Nor had Community Outreach.
Before this holiday weekend when the building will again be locked to "outsiders" of which I am not a part, as the law allows me in to watch the ballot processing going on inside, I need a written document from the Director or a board member, demonstrating my ability to enter, and all rules that apply to credentialed observers.
I need this document in sufficient time before the Thanksgiving holiday, and with proper contact numbers of those with authority, to be able to discuss and/or negotiate any rules that falsely assume my (or other observers') unique guilt in plans to break election laws, when we have given no reason for such assumption; and/or rules that prevent my or other observers' ability to actually see what we need to, certainly without obstructing work going on at the CCBOE.
Without such professional, clear communication, the CCBOE managers, whom I have found truly attempting to follow the law, and to help everyone involved - also remaining fearful of taking what they might consider reasonable action in this regard - themselves not knowing if they will be breaking some later notified "rule" or not.
You may email that document to me at this address.
Thank you,
Adele Eisner

This is what I got on Wednesday. Upon receipt, I also asked Vu about my possessing my cell phone - just like all the workers, and about his "rules". He wanted to know exactly why and exactly when I'd need the phone!!! And admonished me to not take photos with it ( which I NEVER have done.) I don't think he gets that I do not work for him - but know that he works for us/me - and thus, I don't even have to pretend that he bamboozles me.

Click to see my "document"....

Cuyahoga's Election Will Be Completely NON-Auditable.

Among stuff I have noted so far in absentee ballot/provisional/curbside paper scanning and "remakes" is first of all:

their PROCESS makes the election COMPETELY NON-AUDITABLE. Everyone seems to be working really hard, ( and trying not to get into trouble with Vu, Dillingham and board) but NO ONE has any idea of any overall picture and systems/process design, there are no overall agency plan nor departmental written guides about how to do any of these massive tasks, no set out mission (like count accuracy and ability to later check that) for them - except to get each massive task APPARENTLY DONE - somehow, some way, any way- and not get in trouble - for lateness, or such things as not following a superior's decision should he/she show up later and THEN decide "you did it wrong"so you need to start over again. Underlying this troop of managers making things up on the fly and truly dedicated (and also well-paid) temps following them, there is resignation, overwhelm, anxiety, a bit of crisis always. Each process is only oversighted in a plowing through the task of the day way - kind of like a person in messy living environs might shove the dirty laundry under the couch, dust balls under teh rug, and the litter box down the basement stairs right before guests are to arrive.
All of this, as one friend has said, is therefore - alot of "noise" - dangerously, I add, highly historically impacting "noise"....

The term "remake"comes from punchcard days when the voter inserted his or her card into the punchcard slot backwards or upside down. Where the voter intent was clear, the BOE could "remake" those few ballots, putting them on an obvious blue card, keeping the original for checking,

Now, the Cuyahoga BOE, since May,'06 has been using the name "remake" to do whatever they want to create results they want. In May, when the Diebold $9000.per, optical scanners could not read the 18,000 absentee ballots - the BOE decided, and with Blackwell's OK, to have temp workers, no background checks, no proper supervision, and some of whom it was later found could not even read, take those thhousands of votes and enter "them into the DRE's - for the official count. (Blackwell told them also to turn the paper over, so there would be no "paper trail"of what occurred.) These they called "remakes"!!!!

At the October 2 meeting, after reading their equally stonewalling reports, filled with pages of tiny minutia put online, and with any item they didn't want to talk about, just removed - with no public closure, I strongly objected that "the managers" had again decided to give themselves "permission"to "remake" ballots after the Nov.election - that they were giving themselves "permission" to print "paper trails" - that are by law literally OUR "official ballots"! -but they could print them from who knows what machines, from supposed archival memories that the ESI report had already shown don't even necessarily match the supposedly matching memory card, etc. ie. Give themselves permission to print anything, and say - Look, here are your (?) "results" and here are "your"winners"! I'll also attach the 10/2 video of my statement that AG Petro's determination clearly states that voter verifIED ballots are to be used, not somehow veriFIABLE - if one digs or even knows what the BOE is doing behind our backs.

Here, however, I deal with only paper ballot remakes which are equally as bad. I of course, didn't see the "remakes" from the machines.

To begin their Saturday and Sunday "remake days" began as the workers were supplied the supposed all soiled, defaced, and overvoted ballot PAGES (of 3 or 4 pages in ballot) that the scanner could not read in first unofficial count.

Starting last Sunday, they were just dealing with absentee ballots that had been included in unofficial count (not approx 20K provisionals, absentees that came in Sat. Mon or Tues before election, not curbsides and not federal/military. Don't yet know how many those actually comprised. Don't know if anyone there knows either.)

They had also sorted out all ballot blanks that came back in precinct bags to be used for "remaking." These had been piled into bins, then before remakes back into precinct order - so as the remake teams of two - one D and one R needed a blank to remake the proper ballot style for the proper precinct (we have have almost 1434) - a runner would go get the right PAGE - not whole ballot - usually leaving the package of printed ballots for that precinct that came from MCR, the printer, then with at least two "orphan" pages of a ballot, amidst the unused ballots. There will be now be NO way to rectify that the proper number of unused BALLOTS remain unused - ie that no ballot stuffing occurred.

(I do not have an estimate of the number of "remade" pages that were needed. I just know that there were about 25 teams of people, working an entire day on them, though the actual redoing of a page went very fast. There were definitely bins of them - LOTS. And this is the proof they use to show and laugh about how the PUBLIC is so disorganized!!!!- that voters soil their ballots so the precious Diebold machines can't read them- but they supposedly make it right....).

Individual PAGES, not ballots, then were going all over the place - for there were about 10 tables of at least 2 teams of two at each, doing the remakes If a team needed a ballot from a "bin" which is how they separated them and find them - and that was the same "bin" needed by another table/precinct style, that team would then lay aside the bad ( the ones that needed remaking) originals and go on, until someone could get back and refind the proper "bin" pile.
Thus there were strays and loose ends of two different kinds going on. All these "loose ends" unlogged and untracked and actually unsupervised - were really making me nervous. Never saw any way of tying everything back together properly. (And in later conversations with Ballot Dept, Manager, Matt and a few others there - scarily neither did any person there.)

There will be NO way to ascertain exactly how many ballots we had:
• from machines - all we have is the number generated inside the black boxes - actually the massively overpriced at $2,700 each junky, toylike "dumb terminals." (Think about it - most of us could buy at least 5 decent, but solidly performing laptops, especially for just this function, and a WORKING printer for each, for that amount- an amount we paid for with taxes, though they're termed "free")
• paper provisionals, absentees, curbside votes, etc: how many used and unused ballots were supposed to be there, nor how many we actually were supposed to have. NO true idea. NO way.

Also, the supervisors of "remake day" were also "the runners" - getting frustrated and tired and excited among themselves when they could not find the "bin number" needed - because it was already at a different table for a different precinct. They'd think they lost something - excitedly go calling for a bin number.

I also saw a bin with some envelopes with ballots just laying there in back of the room, that no one was aware of until I pointed them out to the one person "I" , the bad person/observer was allowed to talk to. They just said Oh, and laid them aside, busy with running. Eventually my "OK" person to talk to got someone to come over and look at the unidentified bin of ballots. It was in the view of "the chair" I was assigned to. More anxious talking among them. The major purpose then seemed to be to whisk them out of my sight. They didn't know what those were either. They were more to be put in another one of a number of unmonitored unmarked piles to somehow be dealt with "later".

THEN as I started watching the scanning of unofficials, again (?) appearing were NEW pages that the scanners could not read! When I saw some of them, it was obvious why - marks all over, etc.
The first question there becomes how did the scanners purportedly read them the first time? - Why were they not among the Sunday remakes previously identified? Is all to that date really been scanned and scanned/counted properly ?

When I asked , I was told "not to worry about that". I said that's exactlyy the kind of thing I DO "worry" about/my job. There was no good explanation offered. Basically they just turned it into an argument about why "paper ballots are so difficult to deal with", though better than punch cards. Not if one things it through, they're not.
I replied, NO. Referred to New Hampshire, N. Tobi site, with excellent and much cheaper, less labor intensive methodology. It was the BAD SYSTEM they were using.

THEN, as I sat there, I had explained to me how they were handling the NEW remakes that supposedly had been represented in unofficial count.

On Sunday, they had marked both the original and remake with the same number at top in red: "A for absentee, the bin number, and the ordinal number in the pile they were handed (Though each precinct's "bads" being kept in well marked envelope, the person in charge on Wed. did not have any idea of how they are filing those originals' envelopes"- so originals can actually be found. Another kind of we'll worry about that later. "We're dealing with the cards we're handed" referred to!

Wednesday's scanning finding NEW remakes, were being marked with a DIFFERENT "system" "OC" for official count. Those did not even have the nicely marked envelopes for remakes, and one for originals. They were just all in one pile. Wednesday, they were sending runners downstairs in basement for the "pages"/blanks. All blank ballots just sitting in precinct piles down there - not locked up.

THEN I was told that there were MORE blank ballots somewhere upstairs too! Because when the Cand. and Voter Services department went out to nursing homes and hospitals election day, they each took lots of blanks with them - (not all from same precincts, so wide cross section.) The man in charge Wed. ( not VU though he was there - and he knows little about any process anyhow - thus, all devised by separate department managers doing the best they can with no overall picture, and not enough time) did not know how many, where they were, and didn't think there was a logging system he could find for those upstairs blanks and useds.

ADD TO THAT - that our Diebold system has a "ballot on demand" feature - which means that our BOE can print as many ballots as they want from the computer - and that DO work in the scanner.

That is how they did the "public pretest" of the scanners I observed - with ballots they printed in house!

Just add all of the above up - and if you're skin is not crawling yet, you can see that just given absentees and other kinds of paper ballots - even if we get the number of printed ballots provided from MCR - there will be NO WAY, I repeat NO WAY to ever rectify them...

Our election is thus, NON-AUDITABLE.

Getting the number of absentees today. 80K-100K total.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Director Vu's Next Gig?

Is Michael Vu taking a position at Diebold? After Director Vu's recent dismal performance in the May 2006 primary election, and subsequent unsuccessful attempts of Dems to fire him, it has been widely rumored that Vu had cut a deal to leave the Cuyahoga BOE soon after the general election. But who would be willing to take such damaged goods? Perhaps Diebold, as Vu just directed approximately $10M of Cuyahoga's tax dollars to Diebold in the last 3-months. Sounds like a win-win for both Vu and Diebold, with both getting nice payoffs - all at the expense of Cuyahoga County.

Please stay tuned. But remember, you heard it here first.

High Undervotes in Statement of Votes Cast Report

The BOE has released its unofficials Statement of Votes Cast (SOVC) report (large PDF file), which is the standard election report produced by the Diebold GEMS server. Check out the results starting on page 112. If one adds the total votes cast for the two candidates ("total votes cast") and then compares this to the "times counted" column, you'll see significant discrepancies - big undervote rates.

Note: In the SOVC report, the "times counted" column is essentially the total ballots cast in that race. Hence, total ballots cast less total votes cast equals total undervote. This number of undervotes seems hard to swallow as the voters' will.

Video: Board attacks Election Science Institute

Here is what happens when you conduct an audit of a Cuyahoga-Diebold Election and the results are not favorable. In short, you get attacked. In this August 2006 video, Steven Hertzberg presents ESI's findings to Chairman Bennett, who obviously is more interested in attacking the messenger than in fixing the problem with Diebold machines.

Viewers should note that the questions (see below) asked by ESI have yet to be answered by the Cuyahoga BOE:

1. After 8-weeks of repeated requests to the Board of Elections to provide ESI with data that did not include 17 year old and curb side voters, why did ESI still receive data contaminated with this information? How will the BOE provide accurate data to partisan election lawyers in a timely way during a future hotly contested election result.

2. Why does the Diebold TSX machine not provide an error message when data from a machine does not copy on to a memory card? ESI observed approximately 4% of the machines that did not copy election results from the machine to a memory card without repeated attempts by operators.

3. Did booth officials switch memory cards on Election Day, and what impact does that have on transparency and auditability?

4. Can we confirm why 24 TSX units in the warehouse, used on Election Day, do not have any election data on them at all?

5. Why do over 50% of the VVPAT summaries not match the election archive results, even when all missing VVPATs are eliminated from our analysis?

Update on Provisional Ballots from 2006 General Election

I'm in the midst of getting the provisional info, but right now running down to observe absentee scanning, and to check some provisional rejects. Our provisional department, after my own reasonable meetings with reasonable managers , (certainly not because of a cooperative or informing director) have been wonderful in the list they supplied me. They even broke down rejected because of "missing info" into what was missing.

The managers understand, however, that even just having that list is not sufficient to find if these votes should havebeen counted, and if it may have been lack of poll worker understnading that prevent them from counting. There are often interesting little notes also written on the outer envelopes which shed more light on why some information may be missing, but there has been no OK for me to review the envelopes themselves. Right now, though I've asked to see them,and the department manager checked for me, this has been denied in writing by Prosecutor due to HAVA "privacy"conditions - ability to see whose vote was whose, he infers.

My report on Monday morning to the board at their meeting to, in part, accept or reject the provisionals as put forth, (though they have NOT been there observing the process of validation so are likely to just blindly accept the suggestions of the department under current limitations) will be to reserve the right to check provisional ballot envelopes - after certification, and for me to seek to ammend certified results within the 80 day window allowed for such changes.

Will check some rejects today as they've put up public registration check computers for me - also arranged in manager meetings - again, not director cooperation - though this probably still will not get me the info I still need.

My goal at Monday's meeting will also be to emphasize the need for better poll worker training re: provisionals - with some additional specifics gleaned from overwhelmed and trying hard provisional department - with which I heartily agree , or getting rid of provisionals altogether.
I will emphasize same day registration too - no need for current 30 day wait. It causes disenfranchised voters, and MUCH more work for BOE's.

I have some specifics to demo from own observation - though I could not touch envelopes to see enough notes on them on my own.

Our Candidate and Voter Services department manager, even gave me the provisional report as of yesterday - which is pretty well done, just possibly a very few off here and there - on disc, broken out by precinct, and failure reason. It's BIG file.

Right now we have a total of 15,872 provisionals

12,374 are OK'd.

3,497 failed - a 22% failure rate.

1,335 were determined "not registered"
1,665 - "voted in wrong precinct"
116 - a number which may have changed since
44 - "no signature"
301 - missing ID - no anything, including birthdate nor "10T affidavit"
25 - bad address, but good could not be found
11 were labeled VAV - had already voted an absentee ballot

I feel pretty good that given the remaining mess of our registration system, the workers checked a few different ways to see if they could find people not registered- and did - about 60 - by cross checking birthdates.

General Election Costs Exceed $10M

First, check out the Cleveland Plain Dealer's article on costs of the election. It's seems the $8M is greatly under-reported.

An anonymous county source said at least $10M. Another very high level source intimated that it is closer to $14M.

I have quickly calculated the amounts awarded to Diebold, usually as a sole source supplier, at times for seeming ridiculous things, at often ridiculously high prices, just since August. That seems to add up to around $8M, just to Diebold - 1/4 to 1/2 million at every meeting since August. Some equipment, but many also "expendables" - not one time costs. And those are just the things we know about. There are items that have gone under "vouchers" - broken into smaller - under 15K pieces - so non-reported on agendas, unless asked for (and only possibly gotten after long waits) as "Public Info" requests. Total costs even just to Deibold are probably closer to $9-10M.

BOE's Election Data Archival Process

In late July/August, 2006, in the midst of election data retention concerns, with the federal 22 month deadline approaching while the Richard Hayes Phillips investigation of 2004 punch card ballots was still proceeding and showing many "anomalies", I asked and became aware of SoS Blackwell's Advisory 2005-04. It supposedly allows BOE's to "transfer" (undefined) electronic election data to CD-ROM (in an undefined process) for non-federal races, after only 60 days after an election - wiping off memory cards, presumably for (vendors' ridiculously high) cost reasons.

Further alarmed, I began to question if the Cuyahoga BOE was going to "transfer", and if so, what and how they would do that - the latter of which, my answerers did not know. I also asked for notice to be posted on their website so the public could witness the process.

Very late Friday 9/22/06/early Saturday a notice popped up on their site for transferring on Sunday 9/24 at 8:30am, a time when many are in church and also a Jewish High Holy Day. Unable to attend because of the latter, I called a videographer to ask if he would go and film for me.

Though he then originally would not share the film, he did tell me about it. After I shared the news with some others, the videographer has been persuaded to release some of it the internet.

The clip here is a portion of the 10/2/06 Cuyahoga board meeting, where I asked them about that "transferring" process. The other video clip shows what really happened on 9/24. This press release issued by ESI and Ed Felton discusses the implications of the BOE's actions.

Compare for yourself - and be shocked by both the process and response.

Video: BOE's "Defense" of Laptop "Archival" Process

Video Clips of Cuyahoga BOE 10-2-06 Meeting
About their new "SecurityPlan.

...To hear their "version" when I asked about their "transfer"process,
go to just short of halfway, after stream comes in.

The entire stream is "interesting" though - their constant avoidance of, and many alternate versions of well as of "security"

What's in this clip:

1. Chris Nance, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones Executive Administrator- being put off by Bob Bennett. Of course, there was no additional meeting to discuss the ridiculous "security plan", and there never was planned to be one.

2. Dan and my tamper tape question. I have not been informed of any test as promised.

3. My questions - Notice:

-the completely circular reasoning about tamper tape- What if the tamper tape does not show true security?

- the avoidance of answering about ESI

- Mr. Vu DID answer me in earlier at the City Club. He said they were BOE laptops, period. And he smiled about it, as if he were, as usual, daring me to find out differently.

- Mr. Vu upqoted the memory cards - he quoted the retail price - which was not the price paid. The price paid to Diebold was bad enough $135/each. A PCMCIA card is normally between $18-25 each retail.

-it was not the public's perception that the laptops were for personal use. That was the employees' perception, demonstrating wide unchecked at-home use. And actual personal laptops were used!

- and they circled back to relying on the non-matching archive memory. Also the vote they "certified" as official, as they announced at that certification meeting in May, was hardly accurate. In at least 7% of the total, either they had more ballots than voters, or voters who signed but with no vote cast.

- and the EMP's have not been certified. Diebold has showed no specs for this new hardware showing all their capabilities- which the public needs to see.

4. Vicki's question - The BOE definitely called those 3 professors their "security team" for months throughout 2005 as the BOE "stayed the course toward Diebold, touting that they were taking care of "security."

Cuyahoga BOE is blocking observers

Free Times
Volume 14, Issue 30

Published November 15th, 2006

Does Anyone Know What's Going On?
When It Comes To Voting, There Is No Such Thing As a Straight Answer

Most would have you believe now is a time for celebration. Democrats have taken back Ohio and the U.S. Congress. According to mainstream media reports, those electronic voting machines in use around Northeast Ohio performed wonderfully November 7; not since that girl from Small Wonder have robots been so loved. Lines were shorter. Absentee ballots were counted on time. It was, indeed, a Midterm Midtacular. Oh, and did you hear? Michael Vu, director for Cuyahoga County's Board of Election, is about to become a father! Mazel Tov! Yay, us!


Not so fast. Set that bottle of Great Lakes Christmas Ale down before you toast to our success. (Slowly. That stuff's potent.)

Everything isn't fine. It's a far, far way from fine. If we're Earth, then fine is like beyond Pluto or something. We're that far from fine.

See rest of story at Free Times