Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It Keeps Getting Better Here - Poor, Poor San Diego

With rational presentation of fairness, accuracy, transparency needs, Interim Director, Jane Platten listens, considers, and does as much as she can as quickly as she can to remedy an election situation that she understands needs fixing. One can hardly ask for more.

After such a long time, it seems somewhat miraculous, and certainly a huge breath of fresh air here in Cuyahoga.

For about a week, I had a problem getting some public records - copies of ballots from last November's election.
The problem shed light on a larger one - seemingly inadequately accessible and secure storage of our election records.
I was told by another, before writing to Jane yesterday, that under the former director, the records were ordered to be taken out of the building to another site, which only one person, his former assistant, has generally gone to, if needed.

Today Interim Director Platten has directed the November records and ballots back into the CCBOE building, which has cameras and guards, and can have bi-partisan double lock and key; and where, once they are moved back , citizens can see if desired, in the 22 month federal retention period for federal elections, that our records are secure and complete (at least as complete as they were left last year.)

She is willing to work with, not brush off or laugh at citizens with reasonable, rational requests to better our elections. I hope that citizens continue to work with her - for everyone's sake.

I also hope that many will supply her as much help and support to make the first election under her direction in May - apparently despite scant guidelines from the past, but with some willing workers - a real success for all.
Though for years in the past, as deflection and cover for massive numbers of massive problems, we've been told that "No election is perfect," no election is. But it's quite a different understanding to also know that someone is there who wants to know and understand problems that present, and is willing and determined to also find solutions for the future.
(For races and areas involved in the May 8 election, click the following link see the end of that post.)

Kudos to Platten! Poor San Diego.
And here's a comment too important to be left to chance that one might click and read. Left by Steven Hertzberg:

Jane has always displayed a meaningful interest in election improvement and transparency. It is extremely refreshing. It is fortunate that she appears to be able to now exhibit these traits without fear of reprisal.

However, while extremely bright and capable, Jane will need the assistance of at least two senior executives from other industries.

First, Jane must absolutely be given an experienced technical operations professional...someone who has been a Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at a technology company or government agency for at least 12 years - someone needs to establish proper technical operational and security procedures for the Diebold system, because Diebold has delivered a vastly incomplete system.

Secondly, lets hope that the new board will provide Ms. Platten with a senior operations engineer, perhaps someone who has designed manufacturing plants in the now defunct automotive industry. This person needs to know how to design workflows, build robust operations, and statistically measure election machine performance via statistical process controls (SPC). As we've seen time and time again, chain of custody and control of mission critical election assets is crucial for a transparent and accurate election. Finally, this person can finally develop the kind of reporting essential to demonstrate to the public that the election was accurate.

The cost of these two individuals is trivial compared to the cost of another election based on the incomplete Diebold system.

If Cuyahoga is unwilling to secure such talent, then the only other option is to scrap the electronic system and to migrate back to a non-electronic system such as punchcards.

The path has been crystal clear for quite some time. Now that Ohio finally has the right people in positions of power, it is their responsibility to put in place the people and mechanisms that can deliver a robust election system with sufficient checks-and-balances.

April 23, 2007 4:51:00 PM EST