Friday, November 30, 2007

Post-post note about recounts, to date

Don't think I mentioned earlier, about the first day's recount - Though the Bedford Heights Charter Commission was mandated for an automatic recount, that whole process made no difference to the outcome. The race was to select 9 of 14 candidates. The margin between #9 and #10 was large. The automatic recount came between something like # 3 and #4 - making all that time and effort for no reason. All 9 stayed elected.

The North Olmsted recount, the question of two earlier board meetings, was held today. Don't know yet how that one went.

And God help us all- here is the list of recounts scheduled for NEXT week!

The first two on the list are mandated. The last four are requested, and requesters will have to pay max $50 (up from $10 last year, per HB3) per precinct for those counts. Though this could make recounts non-affordable to many, especially in a county-wide race, on a per hour basis, it could be quite a deal! (On a true usefulness basis to actually prove what voters wanted - via these Diebold machines, it could be $50 per precinct too much, though it does give access to poll books, etc.)

Film from first day's recounts 11/26 - Get out the caffiene and sugar, and learn...

Here are the films promised in
where it was stated:
"And I'm processing film from the day - only from the approximate 3 hours of reprinting procedures, not the counting itself. If you love watching paper being unrolled, you'll love the film. It will also serve as a good sleep aid.
But seriously, there are some interesting facts about the process mixed in."

Some of the scenes in the first film may have been slightly re-arranged, to no effect on the meaning. (Not wanting to subject viewers to the whole thing, I myself got lost in the paper unwinding, while editing. Hope I didn't leave out any good parts.) They still show the long tedium of the entire process of just the reprinting damaged Diebold ballots, showing and explaining everything they were doing to recount witnesses: the board's decision making, according to SoS Memo 7-21, etc. (And I missed when they showed witnesses that they had selected the matching memory cards to the yet-to -be printed tapes.)

The second film below, explains more of what they still had to do - just for the reprint process - again, not the hand count nor the final comparing to official results.

Further, as explained below, this whole closed-circle process of essentially machine to machine, with a lot of human care and counting in between, proves essentially NOTHING about the Diebold machines' actually tabulating the will of the voters!

What a mess that's been set up for us by HAVA, and now continued by Brunner!
What a waste! What false securities in elections meaning the majority will are being set up!

A few of the salient facts you'll find dotted amidst the unwinding VVPAT's, in the films include:

1.When there is a paper change in a Tsx machine, the machine does not record the machine ID on the second and possibly the third paper tape, making it nearly impossible to match up that partial tape with the right memory card/machine ( in case the poll workers forget. Remember, in the field when they get paper jams, and have lines of people, after only 4-5 hours of training weeks before, 1-day poll workers too get overwhelmed.)

2. The GEMS tabulating system cannot generate reports by certain precincts, as is done in recounts, making that necessary isolation process another hour-long manual step for BOE workers.

3. Damaged ballots go from mangled, to one vote not being able to be read- still necessitating the process of reprint.

4. HB3 demanded that the public is not allowed to see the machine serial numbers printed at the top of tape (the first only when there are multiples.) Now what's THAT about?
The only "privacy" such maintains is to keep private "evidence" of all kinds of potential unscrupulous behavior and "fixed" or unfixed (non-repaired) machines.
Even in a small county with only a few machines and few voters, if Sally X, were the only person to cast a vote on a machine, by the time it would get to recount, who would know that the one vote on a paper trail with machine serial number 123456, for instance, was Sally's. There needs to be a way to cross reference the cards and VVPATs, obviously. In Cuyahoga, they matched by card number and polling location printed at the top. It's ORC 3516.18 now.
5. And more...

So get out the caffiene or stress ball ...and learn for yourself - some facts, and how bad it is, for essentially no good reason but false securities.

The board members you see in the videos are (R) Chairman Jeff Hastings, and (D) Sandy McNair, who are trying to follow SoS Memo 07-21. You also see Matt Jaffe, head of the CCBOE Ballot Dept. and Brian Cleary of same. In background are Ed Monroe regional rep for Sec. Brunner; Jane Platten, Director; Pat McDonald Assist. Director, recount observers and others.

For a slicker, quicker view from media, here's WKYC, Channel 3's coverage from the second day.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Post note to recounts - Hard to explain

After the CCBOE board meeting yesterday, I went down to see how the Solon Board of Ed recount was proceeding. They have about 26 precincts in all. The board staff started by randomly selecting a 3% sample - with their resident lottery-like, ping-pong ball "air-blower," that vacuums into stasis, a few balls from all of them, each with a precinct number on it.

By the time I got down there at about 10:30 am, they had hand counted the entire 3% sample. Not one damaged ballot was found.

Now go explain. It seems IMPOSSIBLE for demographics or partisanship to play any role. They are truly pretty equal from the the areas considered during the two recount days. Hmm...

But the break outs ended up to be :
a total of 15 tapes that were unreadable. The breakdown is as follows:
8 Bedford Hts Recount (out of 57 canisters)
7 North Royalton Council Recount (out of 18 canisters)
0 Solon Recount (out of 125 canisters)

Here's the PD briefing about the latter:

Recounts & Other Touchscreen Messes-the literal unwinding them to solve

Yesterday I wrote about the (yet unsourced) encoder problems in North Olmsted, and the mess that caused. The board began the day with yet another meeting - or resumption of - from the day before. ( They figuratively "stay in session" during the recounts.

All 3 candidates for Council, previously prepared for a recount yesterday, were there.
It was found and fully documented with copies of original 11/6 documents, that 19 regular voters had voted on paper, to access the school board race, and had ballots put into provisional envelopes that were then rejected for lack of information.
One of those voted said she voted half Tsx, and asked for a paper ballot for school board. Hers was the only one of the 19 not accepted, for it could not be known if she had voted a whole ballot on the Tsx, which would have made her paper ballot a second one. The school board race had a solid outcome.
All the other 18 were accepted and were to be included in the certified count. (That was after sorting out the fact that the poll worker had noted the wrong "Gary" as having voted provisionally. The two "Gary J.'s" (last names were given) were called, affirming the info of the Gary J on the envelope, and that the other, noted Gary had indeed voted on a touchscreen.) What a mess.
I actually worked today (!) so did not go to the board meeting at noon, (nor call, nor to any recounts, thank goodness - they are truly tedious with the VVPATS and very long - see below) to find out the new result of that council race to be certified, and to find out if a recount would still be mandated. All candidates by the way, even the winner, affirmed what the board was doing was the right thing - expressed that they wanted every voter's vote counted.

2. After the Candidate and Voter Services Dept. found the problem in North Olmsed, they went back to see if there had been any similar numerous provisional rejects, for missing information, from one polling location that demanded further study, in case something similar had happened - regular votes on paper at the polls, being misconstrued as and rejected as provisionals.

They found two other instances.
The board accepted 11 mistakenly rejected paper ballots in Lyndhurst 4D that were given to voters when early on 11/6 the Tsx machines were "having technical difficulty." These 11 would not affect the outcome of the race, but could make it close enough to trigger an automatic recount. At the time of this writing, I assume that question was answered when the board certified those new totals today.

They also moved yesterday to accept 14 ballots, previously rejected in Cleveland 16E for the same reason. Those paper at poll ballots were due to a "faulty encoder."

In all of the above cases, the board checked all notations, the poll book etc. to make sure that the ballots they accepted were from registered voters who had signed in at their voting location.

The Literal Unwinding of Paper Trail Mess of the First Recount Day - complete with 15 damaged (from DRE printer) of 70 paper trails total
Is this what a recount should look like?
Board members determine damaged ballots to reprinted per Memo 07-21
This is a copy of a message I sent to a few election integrity groups yesterday morning. (Too tired right now to create a new one about the lonnng, tedious one at the recount the day before.)
In a message dated 11/27/07 4:17:21 PM, a member of Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections wrote:

Why not print out a copy of the VVPAT, two observers canvisually spot check ballots to make sure they match, or else inspect all ballots side by side, (would be easy to do on a large long table).

They actually kind of did that yesterday in the CCBOE recount, after reprinting the board-approved damaged tapes - as well as showing and explaining every step.
There were 2 recounts - one 5 precincts - but a race of picking 9 of 14 candidates!
The other - I think 8 precincts. Don't remember. Will get.
Since when I left at 7:30 pm - with one recount still going on - and other observer and all election workers still there - and I estimate still at least 3 hours to go... ( the problem is the VVPATs!) I was exhausted... and "looking forward to" another observer day today! The CCBOE was excellent in transparency.

BUT the absolute RIDICULOUSNESS of this whole messy, tedious, lonnnnggg, detailed day - and any future similar AUDITS, too - with the VVPATS - even if well done, and people can see every step, and they've demonstrated that cards and papers had originally been used together - as it was very well pointed out by Jason Parry, as below. All the process does is shows that the machines can add "SOMETHING" and that people can also add-up THE SOMETHING that the machine already added.

This closed-loop, circular summation however, completely leaves out the question of: do these duplicating messy, tedious, lonnnnggg, detailed "feats of addition" have anything to do with what VOTERS intended to cast?

The way they did it and the randomness of the appearance of the HIGH RATE of damaged tapes, along with poll worker signatures on the originals, would preclude any insider having secretely "recreated" cards and papers from them, along with new " numbered seals" on canisters - to "clean things up ahead of time for recount witnesses" - as was purported in past 2004 previously convicted Cuyahoga recount.

But with these machines - ALL of this - does still NOT affirm that they are recording votes as intended.
By the time it gets to recount/audit - the slippery slope attention is put to, not voter intention, but by then - the voter-disconnected question of only the addition ability of machine vs."man."

And from that, when they INEVITABLY match ( if the people are good detailed counters,) we're then told (not by the CCBOE on either of the below, but by most - even some of the candidate observers at the recount) it "proves the machines work." !!!!! ( I ask, for what???)

And from the messy, tedious, lonnnnggg, detailed day, we're also told, it also proves that machines are much "faster" than "man" at such addition - thus, to those people no reasonableness of hand marked, paper ballots!

Because of the invalid closed circularity - we get
completely invalid conclusions - dangerously affirmed by some direct experience with "SOMETHING" !

Further, it's been shown that even the experience of today in Cuyahoga, would hardly be what some politically-patronaged (thus, falsely trusted) BOE's in Ohio would actually do.

It's much, much easier - and actually just as ultimately (in-)effective in checking voters unified intent - to spill coffee.....and if some BOE's really want to extend themselves to keep up a show..."just re-print the recount results from the tabulator computer and call it a day."

At least the CCBOE is following the laws...and going out of their way to do what they can do to show people they really care about them and their concerns too - while struggling long and hard with the machine limitations and the ridiculousness that they impose.

( Recounting punchcards would have been MUCH faster. AND the human counting of the paper ballots from today was also - MUCH faster, as well as being originally much easier to reconcile, including allowing the people there to UNDERSTAND what they were doing and why...only partly because that process has inherent meaning.)

BTW, though I don't yet know how many tapes were counted in total today - I estimate between 50 and 75 total between the two recounts. I do know that 14 (actually it ended up to be 15) of those tapes needed to be reprinted. Percentage facts will obviously have to wait.
But it seems today that an estimate of 15-30% would be correct.

Throw the junk back..after getting our money back!

I have pictures, but right now, have to "pack my tent" for today... Promised a candidate I would observe for her. A whole different story...

Per Jason Parry:

"I mean really let's just cancel any recount where tapes are
printed from memory cards. You have to be a complete
moron to think this is a valid idea. Why not just re-print
the recount results from the tabulator computer and call
it a day.

A recount is intended to count paper results by hand and
compare that to the computer tabulation results from the
memory cards. If you print the paper tape, to be counted
by hand, from memory cards then barring human error,
OF COURSE they match. And anyone who has read any
of the detailed reports on VVPAT and election tally results
realizes that they are not the same and in many cases the
tabulation results do not match the VVPAT."

This is the PD report from the first recount day. The reporter, Joe Guillen also was an all day survivor. In it, the man of famous name Chris Riggall, Diebold-Premier spokesman said again, Diebold-Premier needed to do "further investigation." In another film yet to be published here, you'll see that Jane Platten, Director reporting on election night and official count tabulator crashes, on 11/21, that Diebold-Premier, even had that "chutzpah" to suggest that their "investigations" be done in their own offices! Thankfully, she declined the offer. A sure bet that Premier's conclusions will point blame at the CCBOE, the poll workers and anyone but themselves, for their woeful (to us) failures.

And I'm processing film from the day - only from the approximate 3 hours of reprinting procedures, not the counting itself. If you love watching paper being unrolled, you'll love the film. It will also serve as a good sleep aid.
But seriously, there are some interesting facts mixed in. And you'll get to see some of how careful everyone was to make sure the witnesses could see everything they wanted to (though limited by the rolls of tiny print.)
Stay tuned.

BTW, in the end, after a few human errors, and much human addition on the very human-unfriendly VVPATS, as predicted, the North Royalton count did not change.

I also understand that the CCBOE decided after exhaustion set in at about 9pm. to get legal permission to pause "the continuous count," of the Bedford race which continued to have errors, especially on counting ballots with 9 candidates to be chosen, hone their process, and go home to rest for the next day's marathon. In the end, the outcome of the Bedford race will not make any difference! The margin between #9 and #10 candidate was large. The automatic recount was triggered between something like #3 and #4 candidates, which will not affect who gets on the Commission.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Olmsted Falls- 18 authentically new ballots. Recount today?

At yesterday's CCBOE meeting it was announced that because of an encoder problem in Olmsted Falls, 18 people who could not not access their school board race on their ballot had to be given paper ballots. AND those ballots also contained the race of for Olmsted Falls council - which is up for recount today. AND those paper ballots from REGULAR voters had been put into provisional envelopes at the polls, with no marking, but because the voters were in the poll book, also had no provisional ID info on the envelope. AND when those envelopes came into the manila-envelope "sea" of provisionals to be verified, they were rejected for lack of the envelope information.

AND one of the people from the council race, called about 18 rejected ballots from same location, and then with BOE also then questioning, checking the poll's incident sheet, where the happenings had been marked, and by calling the poll workers, the entire story was found out.

SO the CCBOE, in meeting recess, will reconvene this am to explain to already-called candidates They probably will accept the 18 ballots. The ballots after acceptance will allow the envelopes to be opened. They will then have be counted/scanned. The board will have to then re-certify the Olmsted Falls election. THEN, if still an automatic recount-qualifier, (for Council) the recount will begin, as scheduled for today.

It is not yet understood what all the sources of the problems were here - bad encoders? mistaken prep of them? poll workers missing a step? lack of policy and tools to keep regular paper ballots from polls visibly separate and different from true provisionals? more attention to "triggers" for checking oddities in the provisional verifying department ( it really is a SEA of manila envelopes....)?

The CCBOE is checking to isolate all sources and to correct. There are various, and pretty easy ways, now that they're aware of the series of problems. They are aware that this should mean checking for other such provisional anomalies in this race too. They are currently in the sea of VVPATs and recounts.

Bottom line, it is very important to keep provisional info public, so the public can work with such willing BOE's to help improve.

And bottom line, these 18 "suddenly appearing" ballots at the CCBOE should truly not be the subject of any rumors inferring insider "ballot-stuffing." This is actually because the CCBOE is truly trying to correct mistakes and to fix them.

Also BTW, as of Monday when Geauga County and Lorain County certified their races, those results determined that Cuyahoga ( the larger county in these sometimes split county contests) will have to hold an automatic recount for Hunting Valley, and for the Strongsville school board, respectively. That makes a total of 6 automatic recounts, and a yet to be determined number of requested recounts for Cuyahoga.

Monday, November 26, 2007

SoS "solutions" to unuseable VVPAT paper trails - Insufficient & Invalid?

The Cuyahoga County BOE will be holding a meeting tomorrow morning at 9.
A first item is consideration/acknowledgment of the memo dated 11/21/07 apparently authored by David Farrell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Director of Elections regarding how to proceed when almost certainly counties will come across un-whole, scrunched, torn, unreadable VVPAT tapes from DRE's - the voters' official ballots for recounts (the first time any of the sealed paper canisters are opened after the election in question.)

The memo is available for download here.

After the CCBOE was kind enough to to send me this memo, since I cannot access such items from the SoS website, I found it to be yet another step in memorializing that elections have little to do with voters, our rights, our voice, and our communal will; but instead wrongly memorializing that elections now are about candidates, (who wins and loses, and avoiding non-affordable to most but the few, law suits, that may follow in the political competitions;) about election officials; the private proprietary vendors; the media; etc.

Below is the letter I just sent to David Farrell, asking for quick and proper amendment to his proposed processes - putting voters at the top of the priorities, as we belong.

November 26, 2007

Sent via electronic mail

Office of the Secretary of State
• David M. Farrell, Deputy Assistant SoS and Director of Elections
• cc Kellye Pinkelton, Director, Voting Rights Institute
• cc. SoS Attorneys
• cc. Ed Monroe, SoS Regional Liaison

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections
• cc. Members of the Board
• cc. Director, Jane Platten

From: Adele Eisner, Cuyahoga County voter and resident

RE: Insufficiency of solution to unuseable VVPAT tapes in a recount/ SoS Memo in response to Cuyahoga County's very salient inquiry

(Note 1: Lacking all necessary email addresses, I actually send this to only those listed in the send-to portion of this email. I request that those with easier access to those email addresses will distribute to others also listed in the header of this letter.)

Dear David, and others so concerned:

The matter of current DRE election machinery ruining the official ballots of voters for a recount (where presently such paper trails are first opened after the election) is a very serious one, about which I've voiced grave concern since May 2006, when the current machinery was introduced in Cuyahoga; and specifically in conversations with Kellye and others in your office, since March, 2007.

Before I continue with some background and the main point of my objection to your 11/21/07 Memo/ (possibly interim) "solutions" to the problem, which are misdirected in ignoring the rights of voters and taxpayers of Ohio, I want to express my deep appreciation to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections and staff for their excellent diligence in listening to voters and detailed attempts to protect voters' rights and the sanctity of our elections, thus bringing this matter before you, for some necessary answers.

I begin by pointing out that both the ESI report from Cuyahoga's May '06 election, ( and the Cuyahoga "Collaborative Audit," done after the November '06 election, show, in these separate studies - that a full 9-plus% of all of Cuyahoga's VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails) tapes, unreliably produced by the machines, arrive at the CCBOE unwhole: overprinted, scrunched, torn, taped, smeared etc. - problems you noted in your above-stated memo.

As a recount observer since, I've noted the same vendor/machine problems continue -
• robbing a significant percentage of voters of their official ballots, which further, because of the secret, proprietary software and machinery claimed by these for-great-profit, private vendors, even when ballots are whole, originally prevent voters from the assurance that what is being tabulated are the voters' own choices;
• as well as causing even more obstructive headaches and extensive amounts of time and effort - taxpayer-paid/board staff extended - in those BOE's who are trying to "do the right things" for voters, while being greatly limited by the poor operation and lack of election security of the machines they're forced to use.

I remind you, these machine printers, which are now nationally recognized as unacceptably performing, were an add-on, later required in many states, because of the public outcry about the opacity of/"black-box-ness" and insider, undetectable manipulatability of citizens' election results, after DRE machines were forced around the nation with 2002 HAVA - the unthought-through, financial-boon-to-machine vendors, and power-boon-to-election-insiders. This required add-on happened in Ohio with HB 262.

Yet even our state codes and highly questionable HAVA required these forced-into-use machines and components/these billions of dollar "investment" to taxpayers, to be at least "reliable" in their operation.

From AG opinion, I believe, 2006-05:
"A vendor who desires to have equipment certified submits that equipment and pays a fee. R.C. 3506.05(C). The Board of Voting Machine Examiners examines the equipment and submits a report to the Secretary of State. R.C. 3506.05(D). “If the board finds that the equipment meets the criteria set forth in sections 3506.06, 3506.07 and 3506.104 of the Revised Code,
can be used safely and can be depended upon to record and count accurately and continuously the votes of electors, and has the capacity to be warranted, maintained, and serviced, it shall approve the equipment and...recommend that the secretary of state certify the equipment."


from, I believe: 42 U.S.C.A. § 15481(a)(2):
"Thus, to satisfy HAVA, a voting system must produce a permanent
paper record with a manual audit capacity, and the paper record must be available as an
record for purposes of any recount. For a DRE voting system, VVPAT constitutes the
permanent paper record that is available for recount.
See R.C. 3506.18(A) (“[f]or any recount of
an election in which ballots are cast using a direct recording electronic voting machine with a verified paper audit trail, the VOTER VERIFIED paper audit trail shall serve as the official ballot to be recounted”)
. For a system that uses paper ballots, including a PCOS, the ballots themselves
serve this purpose."

(All above emphases my own.)

Since those times, however, further studies, such as those from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the recommending agency to the federal EAC for states' machine "Voluntary Guidelines" and the University of Connecticut most recently, have proved that such "paper trails" offer voters only what scientific studies call only "fools' gold,"/completely false assurances. They too are driven by secret software that can manipulate what is printed, even when it is different from what is tabulated (even when the voters check them, and can see and read them.)

It is thus, hard to comprehend all the reasons why the Secretary of State's office has not de-certified these machines already, upon such already proven causes, instead of:
- spending another $1.8 million of taxpayer money for more "testing,"
- over this year, forcing immediate vendor-paid, compliance for at least of "reliability" (as opposed to currently happening, hundreds of thousands of dollars for county-paid vendor "maintenance" and "tech help")
and instead of taking us all farther from the necessary accountability and transparency to voters and taxpayers that elections must provide, as suggested in your memo.

Which brings me to the point of this letter: that in your memo, you have completely missed the point of who the damaged parties are when the printers so often mal-perform; and the entire point of the essence of elections, and even these laws, requiring a
Voter VeriFIED , paper trail.

It is THE VOTERS. It is not only potentially interested recount candidates and their observers, who need to be notified, to be able to see our own votes being recreated from some memory card or machine archive.

Elections are about the citizens' right to voice their opinions/select or throw out those "leaders" we want and not.

The main stakeholders of U.S. elections, in this supposed democracy, are thus, not the candidates (i.e. who wins and loses the political "competition," though voters are increasingly being made to think so, and to go away;) nor are they about the media getting fast results on election night.

Thus, at this juncture, and though your memo of 7/21/07 was thought out in detail, while it missed the main point, I respectfully request that you immediately amend it, to require that should a board of elections find one of these un-whole paper trails in a recount (the first opening of any sealed paper canisters after the election to be recounted,) that before they do any recreation of paper ballots, they must provide a minimum of a 24 hour, effectively-wide notice to
all voters whose ballots may be being re-created, so that all voters interested in the re-creation of THEIR original ballots and their verifications, can observe that process.

I certainly understand the further burdens and time constraints this places on the local boards.

But since the tragic forcing of these hackable, poorly performing machines was introduced, citizens' elections - for which citizens have paid dearly at every step, and still pay (including your own salary;) and which determine our own futures - the very essence and concept of elections have been gradually chipped away at - completely non-sensically - to accommodate unreliable vendors and their unreliable machines!
It seems we've all been led to a place, sometimes by intent and sometimes by non-aware habit, of totally forgetting democracy's elections' original purpose, bosses, and stakeholders - the voters.

It's beyond time to remember.

If we can spend $1.8 million for more testing, when so may proven answers were already in front of us all, including the California study now yielding law suits against one vendor at least; if for instance, Cuyahoga can spend time and thus, more taxpayer money working with Diebold-Premier, to do their R&D which should have been done before they sold anything to anyone, (like to find the sources of their tabulators crashing; their insufficient computer memory; their misprepresented Election Media Processors; to engage in weekly conversations to get them to fix other problems, such as in their voter registration systems and reporting mechanisms, etc.) for Premier to hold in secret because of their proprietary claims, but to then probably write more reports about that, to most likely again shift responsibility to anyone but themselves - we must certainly give time (/money) back to voters who've paid for all this mess, so we can at least observe our very own ballots being recreated.

I also want to remind you, that the above-stated ESI report was also one of the first to report that in their audit, they found that Diebold's paper trails, memory cards, and hard-drive archives did not always match as they are purported to.

This fact additionally makes your processes for solution further invalid.

Unfortunately, until your office has these machines recalled, insists on financial liability from vendors for replacement election systems, and transparently includes citizens in the determination of how our votes are to be gathered and counted, I can offer no feasible suggestions for arighting that invalidity.

For now, let's just get first things first for the voters of this state.

I will appreciate your immediate attention to this matter. To build voter confidence in the election process, the cornerstone of a democracy, we must first remember whom the process is mandated to serve. It is the voters - not your office, not the BOE's, not the candidates, and not the media.

Thank you,
Adele Eisner

(Note 2: So that you are aware, I am also posting this message to interested election reform advocacy listserves, so that others can also monitor your response.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cuyahoga Recounts Being Scheduled (from 11/6 election)

As gleaned from some statewide election reform advocates' recent email lists, some citizens are curious about observing election recounts - especially those that contain long, cash-register-like, fragile, DRE paper trails - some of which get damaged in the machines before they even hit the recount (leaving some voters without an official ballot for recount, and thus, leaving some BOE's in a fix of how to reconcile those votes.)

In that stead, and as gleaned from the 11/21/07 CCBOE Election Certification meeting of the 11/6 election, want to let people know that Cuyahoga will be holding 4, and possibly 5 "automatic" recounts in the upcoming week.
An "automatic" recount is mandated if the margin of victory is one half of 1%, or less. This is different from a "requested" recount, where one candidate or issue committee requests the process, and must pay a maximum of $50 per precinct (per last year's HB3, up from $10) of all precincts to be recounted - quite pricey for a countywide election. Cuyahoga has 1436 precincts. Don't know of any "requesteds" yet.

Candidates (and designees of issue committees) are allowed to observe, and bring another witness.
Though I certainly do not speak for the CCBOE, others who want to observe might try calling ahead of time to find the actual times of these recounts, and to seek permission to do so.
In recent past, they have been more than accommodating, and welcoming. But there may be space and/or other concerns they're dealing with. At very least, they need to know whom to expect and to allow an admittance badge into normally restricted counting areas.

I observed the recount of the Strongsville school levy from last August 7. That Sunday, the CCBOE started at about 8am. I left shortly before 6 and they were still finalizing the recount. There were 48 precincts to begin with, and this was this director's first recount. They had written procedures, and were improving them as they carefully worked through the process.

The staff stayed with it...And as the end of the day - things striking us funny - began to hit, Lou Irazarry, head of IT began joking that we needed t-shirts to say - "I Survived the Strongsville Recount."
I was shocked and delighted that at the next board meeting, they presented me with one!

These recounts are long, multi-stepped, tedious processes - if done accurately and well, and with necessary attention to detail, all which Cuyahoga employ.
That's because of the recount-unfriendly tapes for hand counting; the fact that they must upload all memory cards from all machines containing the 3% random selection for hand counting, and also must change to scanning of the paper ballots from that 3%; and they must gather and compare their hand-count totals to the certified vote totals in the tabulator.

In Cuyahoga, they start with a lottery-like, air/vacuum machine with blowing-around ping-pong balls with all included precinct numbers for the particular race. The precinct-balls pop into place in random order. The first "popped" precincts comprising 3% of votes cast in the named race, is what gets hand counted.

They then have to pull all the tapes from machines that could contain those 3% precincts, as well as those precincts' paper ballots and memory cards. Then teams of D's and R's have to go through one tape at a time, to find the race being recounted (if the election had more than one race on the ballot) - and they highlight those...and hand count the votes. Attention is given also to noting and not counting voided ballots; decisions are made how to ascertain the votes on torn, scrunched or otherwise machine-maimed ballots; etc. etc. etc.
In the end, they have to enter the hand-counts into the GEMS tabulator - a clumsy multi-stepped process with GEMS - and compare to tabulator counts, and find and correct discrepancies or do a full hand count.

Obviously, the fewer the precincts, generally, (barring unknowns) the faster the recount.

The dates below are highly approximate right now. Call CCBOE for date/time/necessary permissions: 216-443-3200

Bedford Heights Charter Review Commission -12 precincts - Tuesday, 11/27

N. Royalton Council Ward 6 - 5 precincts -Tuesday, 11/27

Olmsted Falls Council at large- 8 precincts -Wed. 11/28

Solon Bd of Ed -26 precincts -Wed. 11/28

Maybe -Strongsville Board of Ed - 48 precincts (awaiting certified results from Lorain county - split-county school district )

Saturday, November 24, 2007

An Open Post to the Office of SoS Brunner RE: SoS Compliance with Access to Public Information

Below is a copy (interpolated for the web) of the email just finalized and sent.

November 25, 2007
Sent via electronic mail

To: The Office of the Ohio Secretary of State

• Patrick Galloway, Director of Communications

• Kellye Pinkelton, Director of the Voting Rights Institute

From: Adele Eisner, of Cuyahoga County

RE: Apparent Non-Compliance of the Office of the Secretary of State with certain sections of the Ohio Revised Code relating to the Duties and Responsibilities of the Secretary of State.

Dear Patrick and Kellye,

I address this letter to you, as I've previously approached you both, (and/or the VRI,) multiple times over the past months, on matters having to do with the Secretary of State's compliance with public access to information.
Instead of remediation, these matters have either gotten noticeably worse (further from compliance;) or there has been no change, which could be considered worse. I ask that you pass along the information in this letter to whomever necessary, to gain immediate and permanent remediation to the below problems/concerns.

Given the history of lack of ongoing, clear communication with even the VRI, for many months, even about how Ohio Sunshine Laws may or may not apply to that Advisory Group, I'm beginning to think that very possibly, FDR's famous statement, that in politics no happening is an accident, may hold true here. Certainly one occurrence may be an accident, twice causes one to think twice, but three times seems to indicate intent, or here, clear lack of attention to the public whom the Secretary of State is to serve.

1. First, I draw your attention to ORC 3501.05 - Election duties of secretary of state, particularly Sections B and X, which I've placed in bold:

The secretary of state shall do all of the following:

(A) Appoint all members of boards of elections;

(B) Issue instructions by directives and advisories to members of the boards as to the proper methods of conducting elections. In addition to any other publication of those directives and advisories, the secretary of state shall publish those directives and advisories on a web site of the office of the secretary of state as soon as is practicable after they are issued, but not later than the close of business on the same day as a directive or advisory is issued. The secretary of state shall not remove from the web site any directives and advisories so posted. The secretary of state shall provide on that web site access to all directives and advisories currently in effect and maintain an archive of all directives and advisories previously published on that web site.
(C) Prepare rules and instructions for the conduct of elections;

(D) Publish and furnish to the boards from time to time a sufficient number of indexed copies of all election laws then in force;

(E) Edit and issue all pamphlets concerning proposed laws or amendments required by law to be submitted to the voters;

(F) Prescribe the form of registration cards, blanks, and records;

(G) Determine and prescribe the forms of ballots and the forms of all blanks, cards of instructions, pollbooks, tally sheets, certificates of election, and forms and blanks required by law for use by candidates, committees, and boards;

(H) Prepare the ballot title or statement to be placed on the ballot for any proposed law or amendment to the constitution to be submitted to the voters of the state;

(I) Except as otherwise provided in section 3519.08 of the Revised Code, certify to the several boards the forms of ballots and names of candidates for state offices, and the form and wording of state referendum questions and issues, as they shall appear on the ballot;

(J) Except as otherwise provided in division (I)(2)(b) of section 3501.38 of the Revised Code, give final approval to ballot language for any local question or issue approved and transmitted by boards of elections under section 3501.11 of the Revised Code;

(K) Receive all initiative and referendum petitions on state questions and issues and determine and certify to the sufficiency of those petitions;

(L) Require such reports from the several boards as are provided by law, or as the secretary of state considers necessary;

(M) Compel the observance by election officers in the several counties of the requirements of the election laws;

(N)(1) Except as otherwise provided in division (N)(2) of this section, investigate the administration of election laws, frauds, and irregularities in elections in any county, and report violations of election laws to the attorney general or prosecuting attorney, or both, for prosecution;

(2) On and after August 24, 1995, report a failure to comply with or a violation of a provision in sections 3517.08 to 3517.13, 3517.17, 3517.18, 3517.20 to 3517.22, 3599.03, or 3599.031 of the Revised Code, whenever the secretary of state has or should have knowledge of a failure to comply with or a violation of a provision in one of those sections, by filing a complaint with the Ohio elections commission under section 3517.153 of the Revised Code;

(O) Make an annual report to the governor containing the results of elections, the cost of elections in the various counties, a tabulation of the votes in the several political subdivisions, and other information and recommendations relative to elections the secretary of state considers desirable;

(P) Prescribe and distribute to boards of elections a list of instructions indicating all legal steps necessary to petition successfully for local option elections under sections 4301.32 to 4301.41, 4303.29, 4305.14, and 4305.15 of the Revised Code;

(Q) Adopt rules pursuant to Chapter 119. of the Revised Code for the removal by boards of elections of ineligible voters from the statewide voter registration database and, if applicable, from the poll list or signature pollbook used in each precinct, which rules shall provide for all of the following:

(1) A process for the removal of voters who have changed residence, which shall be uniform, nondiscriminatory, and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, including a program that uses the national change of address service provided by the United States postal system through its licensees;

(2) A process for the removal of ineligible voters under section 3503.21 of the Revised Code;

(3) A uniform system for marking or removing the name of a voter who is ineligible to vote from the statewide voter registration database and, if applicable, from the poll list or signature pollbook used in each precinct and noting the reason for that mark or removal.

(R) Prescribe a general program for registering voters or updating voter registration information, such as name and residence changes, by boards of elections, designated agencies, offices of deputy registrars of motor vehicles, public high schools and vocational schools, public libraries, and offices of county treasurers consistent with the requirements of section 3503.09 of the Revised Code;

(S) Prescribe a program of distribution of voter registration forms through boards of elections, designated agencies, offices of the registrar and deputy registrars of motor vehicles, public high schools and vocational schools, public libraries, and offices of county treasurers;

(T) To the extent feasible, provide copies, at no cost and upon request, of the voter registration form in post offices in this state;

(U) Adopt rules pursuant to section 111.15 of the Revised Code for the purpose of implementing the program for registering voters through boards of elections, designated agencies, and the offices of the registrar and deputy registrars of motor vehicles consistent with this chapter;

(V) Establish the full-time position of Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator within the office of the secretary of state to do all of the following:

(1) Assist the secretary of state with ensuring that there is equal access to polling places for persons with disabilities;

(2) Assist the secretary of state with ensuring that each voter may cast the voter’s ballot in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, as for other voters;

(3) Advise the secretary of state in the development of standards for the certification of voting machines, marking devices, and automatic tabulating equipment.

(W) Establish and maintain a computerized statewide database of all legally registered voters under section 3503.15 of the Revised Code that complies with the requirements of the “Help America Vote Act of 2002,” Pub. L. No. 107-252, 116 Stat. 1666, and provide training in the operation of that system;

(X) Ensure that all directives, advisories, other instructions, or decisions issued or made during or as a result of any conference or teleconference call with a board of elections to discuss the proper methods and procedures for conducting elections, to answer questions regarding elections, or to discuss the interpretation of directives, advisories, or other instructions issued by the secretary of state are posted on a web site of the office of the secretary of state as soon as is practicable after the completion of the conference or teleconference call, but not later than the close of business on the same day as the conference or teleconference call takes place.

(Y) Publish a report on a web site of the office of the secretary of state not later than one month after the completion of the canvass of the election returns for each primary and general election, identifying, by county, the number of absent voter’s ballots cast and the number of those ballots that were counted, and the number of provisional ballots cast and the number of those ballots that were counted, for that election. The secretary of state shall maintain the information on the web site in an archive format for each subsequent election.

(Z) Conduct voter education outlining voter identification, absent voters ballot, provisional ballot, and other voting requirements;

(AA) Establish a procedure by which a registered elector may make available to a board of elections a more recent signature to be used in the poll list or signature pollbook produced by the board of elections of the county in which the elector resides;

(BB) Disseminate information, which may include all or part of the official explanations and arguments, by means of direct mail or other written publication, broadcast, or other means or combination of means, as directed by the Ohio ballot board under division (F) of section 3505.062 of the Revised Code, in order to inform the voters as fully as possible concerning each proposed constitutional amendment, proposed law, or referendum;

(CC) Perform other duties required by law.

Whenever a primary election is held under section 3513.32 of the Revised Code or a special election is held under section 3521.03 of the Revised Code to fill a vacancy in the office of representative to congress, the secretary of state shall establish a deadline, notwithstanding any other deadline required under the Revised Code, by which any or all of the following shall occur: the filing of a declaration of candidacy and petitions or a statement of candidacy and nominating petition together with the applicable filing fee; the filing of protests against the candidacy of any person filing a declaration of candidacy or nominating petition; the filing of a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate; the filing of campaign finance reports; the preparation of, and the making of corrections or challenges to, precinct voter registration lists; the receipt of applications for absent voter’s ballots or armed service absent voter’s ballots; the supplying of election materials to precincts by boards of elections; the holding of hearings by boards of elections to consider challenges to the right of a person to appear on a voter registration list; and the scheduling of programs to instruct or reinstruct election officers.

In the performance of the secretary of state’s duties as the chief election officer, the secretary of state may administer oaths, issue subpoenas, summon witnesses, compel the production of books, papers, records, and other evidence, and fix the time and place for hearing any matters relating to the administration and enforcement of the election laws.

In any controversy involving or arising out of the adoption of registration or the appropriation of funds for registration, the secretary of state may, through the attorney general, bring an action in the name of the state in the court of common pleas of the county where the cause of action arose or in an adjoining county, to adjudicate the question.

In any action involving the laws in Title XXXV of the Revised Code wherein the interpretation of those laws is in issue in such a manner that the result of the action will affect the lawful duties of the secretary of state or of any board of elections, the secretary of state may, on the secretary of state’s motion, be made a party.

The secretary of state may apply to any court that is hearing a case in which the secretary of state is a party, for a change of venue as a substantive right, and the change of venue shall be allowed, and the case removed to the court of common pleas of an adjoining county named in the application or, if there are cases pending in more than one jurisdiction that involve the same or similar issues, the court of common pleas of Franklin county.

Public high schools and vocational schools, public libraries, and the office of a county treasurer shall implement voter registration programs as directed by the secretary of state pursuant to this section.

Effective Date: 08-28-2001; 05-07-2004; 05-02-2006; 08-22-2006; 2007 HB119 09-29-2007

I noted to you, Patrick, at the Secretary of State's Summer Conference in June, 2007 that the SoS Directives, Advisories and Memos, which had previously been available to me on the web, had begun to, at various, unpredictable times, present me with an error message, ("Http/1.1 Service Unavailable") making various portions of those items unavailable for days.
Their availability would then return, and various numbers of days later, disappear again. At first, it was only Directives that were affected, then Advisories and Memos began unpredictably yielding that unavailability message.

When it originally happened, the lack of availability originally lasted for only a day, then lasted for many more.

Though there have been brief periods of repair since that time of our first talk, now the majority of the links on your site, including all Directives, Advisories and Memos, yield the same "Http/1.1 Service Unavailable" message to me, constantly; clearly not in compliance.

As an election reform activist, and a member of the VRI, I rely on information from your site quite heavily. I would hope that many in the public do. But as mentioned above, I can now access almost nothing - not the things you're legally required to make available, and not even such items as the RFP for the "top to bottom machine" review. (I can still, however access your press releases, and all the links on the right side of the home page.)

Early this month, the last time I wrote to you about the problem, you indicated that it could be caused because I use a Mac, possibly using the Safari browser.
I replied in part, that this is not reasonable, because:
• yours is the only site of the many I visit daily causing me this problem
• that it happens in both Safari and Firefox browsers
• and the availability of the same items changes over time. When I wrote to you at end October for instance, by the next day, all Directives, Advisories and Memos again became available.
As previously written, the problem must be due to something that your web or IT people are, or are not, doing on your end, and that they need to legally fix immediately and constantly for the future.

• And if a Macintosh computer and software is the problem, though the problem may be affecting a minority, but hardly an uncommon group, it does not minimize the ORC non-compliance issue.

At the bottom of your web pages for example, per the law, you have handicapped accessibility notices for your site.

Certainly Mac/Safari/Firefox users should be afforded the same access. Certainly your IT people should be able to post information, as do all other sites I visit, so they are accessible to all who are using reasonably available hardware and software, and without requiring one to purchase more, or use others' computers. Even Mr. Blackwell's web people could do that.

2. Regarding ORC 3501.05 Section (X) - Ensure that all directives, advisories, other instructions, or decisions issued or made during or as a result of any conference or teleconference call with a board of elections to discuss the proper methods and procedures for conducting elections, to answer questions regarding elections, or to discuss the interpretation of directives, advisories, or other instructions issued by the secretary of state are posted on a web site of the office of the secretary of state as soon as is practicable after the completion of the conference or teleconference call, but not later than the close of business on the same day as the conference or teleconference call takes place.

I have never seen such postings on your site. This is despite the fact that the same language is used as in the above Section B - "posted on a web site of the office of the secretary of state," which from HB3, where such code came into existence, Section B clearly indicates availability to the public.

Is your office making such postings indicated in Section X, available only on a private intranet? If so, by what reasoning, since it is the public who owns elections, pays for them, and ultimately is made to live under such decisions and clarifications?

Thus in addition to ascertaining the answers to questions directly above, under Sunshine Law, I hereby request
• copies of all such postings, for the year 2007, as indicated in ORC 3501.05 Section (X).
• emailed copies of all SoS Directives, Advisories and Memos issued since June 1, 2007

3. Further exacerbating the above lack of compliance, is the lack of compliance of your office with providing public information.
I requested of Brian Green, with whom I was told I was to make document requests, on or about September 13, 2007, by phone, such items as the final RFP for the Top To Bottom Review, the replies from all those who replied, and then later, a copy of any other documents the Secretary of State supplied to the Ohio Controlling Board regarding the testing.
He told me the first request would probably be ready by the following Wednesday.

Though I've since emailed him once regarding this matter, and called and left messages twice, I still do not have those documents, and I've never heard back from him still. Though some of these documents have links to them on your web site, I refer you to item #1 above.

With recently updated rules for supplying public documents in a reasonably expeditious manner, this also indicates lack of compliance by your office. Am I to assume a refusal to comply?

4. Last, from your website -
(in a link I can access:
it states:

Duties and Responsibilities Chief Elections Officer
As Ohio`s chief election officer, the secretary of state oversees the elections process and appoints the members of boards of elections in each of Ohio`s 88 counties.The secretary of state supervises the administration of election laws; approves ballot language; reviews statewide initiative and referendum petitions, chairs the Ohio Ballot Board, which approves ballot language for statewide issues; canvasses votes for all elective state offices and issues; investigates election fraud and irregularities; trains election officials and reimburses counties for poll worker training costs.

In this regard, I state that I stand with all others who have presented Secretary of State Brunner with solid evidence of election fraud in the 2004 election for investigation and appropriate action to prevent same in the future.

For your office to state that there "is no evidence" and thus not openly investigate; or that we must not look backward, but forward to "successful" elections in 2008, while some of the officials in question in that evidence, are still present and active in 2008 preparation and implementation seems both nonsensical, and a dereliction of duty.

I look forward to being able to use and fully access the Secretary of State's web site very soon, including the mandated accessible Directives, Advisories and Memos, on an ongoing basis, necessary for citizens to fully participate in our elections. I also look forward to hearing back from you regarding items 2, 3 and 4, above.

So that you are aware, I am also sending a copy of this message as an open letter to Ohio election reform advocate listserves. The awareness and response of more may be able to help you monitor the status of your office's improvements.

Thank you,

Adele Eisner

I attach copies of the emails referred to in Item #1 above, here, for download.

Monday, November 19, 2007

More (& "Shakier") Recounts- Another Downside to Low Voter Turnout

Cuyahoga was certainly among the vast majority of counties, with our (approximate 18%,) low voter turnout at the polls on 11/6/07. It was a fairly local race in most places, which usually garners far less interest than the 4-year presidentials. Also there is the changing face of more people moving to now available, no-excuse absentee voting (which is NOT a good reason to move to highly fraud-potentialed, all mail-in voting - to be subject of another post.)

But generally decreasing voter turnout rates might also be signaling many things nationwide - none of them good for the future of democracy:
disgust to hopelessness and/or complete disconnection from the overwhelming amounts of very real political corruption, lies and sleaze in various incumbent administrations; disgust, hopelessness and/or complete disconnection from the corrupt insider dynamic, that elections tools and people have become nationwide; and disgust and/or complete disconnection from campaign lies, sleaze and "dirty tricks" that bombards us in years-long battles before voting days..and more.

Amazingly Cuyahoga has almost miraculously turned around the majority of its internal "people problems", as indicated in many posts found on this site - though it's still stuck with the operational and security nightmares of our vastly expensive, "proprietary" Diebold/Premier election system.

News clippings around Ohio reflect not only similar low turnouts on November 6, but also other seemingly new, possibly problematic issues that results from those moves to absentee voting, and low voter numbers, which can now let people take local elected offices at times with less than 200-400 votes- total! - hardly the kind mandates we need for elected officials to show themselves worthy of "leadership."

With small raw numbers, and given the OH law that if there is 1/2 of 1% margin or less between the winner and next highest vote count, there must be an automatic recount, and that candidates and issue committees may request a recount (which often happens in close races,) thus many more races are increasingly left hanging in the balance after election night announcements - dependent on a just few verified additional provisional ballots, and Monday and Election Day absentee ballots added to the official count, and then many more on recounts.

(For an extreme example of the implications, if a race garners a total of only 5 votes, 3 to 2, that one vote margin would necessitate a recount.)

Then, recounts - a fine public right, which in this trend, can on the other hand, begin a whole other series of many, up very close and personal, one-on-one competitive, massively time-consuming processes, and other problems - those which used to be the exception, now becoming a norm.
This is not what the people's elections were ever meant to be (but often is the way that candidates see them - to win at all costs.)

Additional to the massive amounts of time it may take to find the few votes needed to win, in Diebold DRE using counties, there is the problem of Diebold DRE's themselves, and their jamming, halting, flimsy long paper trails, which are hardly recount friendly, and are almost downright recount obstructive.

In fact the New Jersey Times Ledger reported on Sept. 5, '07, in an article titled, "State must come up with plan to replace 10,000 voting machines" it was was said:

A state law requires electronic voting machines to be refitted by January with printers, which would ensure accuracy. But printers from three vendors were found deficient this summer in tests by the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and the state Attorney General's Office told the judge today that retesting will take at least six more weeks.

Yet despite all the vendors' failing printers, the printed ballots on the Voter Verified Paper Trails are the DRE-users voters' official ballots for a recount in Ohio ( thus creating another important reason, among many, for paper ballots, humanly marked and read.)

In two separate Cuyahoga reports (ESI from May, '06, and the "collaborative audit" from November '06) it was shown that over 9% of all our Diebold "paper trails" are "unwhole" - smeared, scrunched, overprinted, torn, taped, unable to be validly used for voters, etc. from Diebold's malfunctioning printers.
Even today, incident reports from every Cuyahoga election show that DRE printer malfunctions including jams, occur with frequent and constant regularity.
The printers don't even give a warning that the jams are happening, so it could be overprinting and scrunching away, until some voter notices, by which time it becomes a major project for a diligent BOE to to try to find out what all was supposed to be on those paper trails, in this situation that's still non-clarified by the SoS .

At the Secretary of State's Columbus Summer Conference in June, Diebold malfunctioning printers were voiced as a signifcant problem among Diebold DRE users across the state.

Diebold's answer to aggravated and increasingly cash-strapped ( by Diebold) election officials who asked if Diebold was going to trade in the still new, but malfunctioning printers, for their newly touted "new improved - easier for poll workers models" (which I personally have never seen.) (According to Diebold almost all their machine problems are because of poll workers - the most important to elections, but also the most vulnerable since they have little voice in defending themselves with truth... Or Diebold blames anyone else up the chain, but themselves....)

With the mention of a "trade-in" (as in FREE exchange, trading good printers for their major malfunctioning ones,) the Diebold presentation leader, Ohio Sales Rep, Lois Donaldson, looked almost quizzically confused.

She eye-checked with other Diebold presentation leaders up front, to have them confirm they also "had never heard of any trade-in (!) program."
BUT like everything else there, she did assure counties that if they told her how many new printers they needed, she would give them a quote... to additionally sell these new "pigs-in-a-poke" for more thousands each, I'm sure.

Further the tens of feet long, flimsy, cash register-like tapes, with little thermal, hard to read print, not only tear easily, but are really difficult to inspect to even to find the particular races to be recounted - and just to unroll and handle.

(And I still even wonder what the bar codes under every ballot really say... Even the CCBOE does not know. Do those encode the voter's identity along with the voter's choices (yet...)? I'm sure that's coming, with the new national "Real ID card" (mandated in a Katrina Relief Bill (!)) for "Homeland Security," where we'll each have our own bar code to be used for all travel, major sales transactions, and even for voting....
To find out, why those bar codes are there, Diebold recommends that we buy bar code scanners, also run by their secret software, from them...for election counts....even though it's been found that the paper trail does not always even match the memory cards...)

I understand that recently, in a weekly phone conference which the CCBOE is now insisting on having with Diebold/Premier, this subject of their malfunctioning printers and how they were planning to solve it was discussed.
I also understand, that among Diebold's main recommendations were that every time a paper jam frequently happens, to just insert a new paper roll (bought from them)! Talk about a huge security and operational mess. And still what about the votes lost under the jam.

Another of their suggestions was that for every paper that is not whole, to just print another one at the CCBOE from the memory card! Never mind that this is against the law... to date. ( We don't know the SoS will do with this Diebold suggestion.)
This is hardly the poll worker-signed, voter veriFIED paper trail, which former AG, Jim Petro declared was the official recount ballot of voters..
Further, in less diligent more politicized counties, we would never know what a BOE would be printing those papers from.

In 2006 under the CCBOE old board, director and deputy, they gave themselves all kinds of permission to just "reprint" when they wanted to, - and never tell or show voters what they were doing. (Just like in May '06 when they had temp workers, some of whom it was later found were unable to read, press in voters choices onto DRE's from the 18,000 paper absentee ballots, which the Diebold scanners could also not read.)

I objected to this reprinting practice many times. On September 24, 2006, I presented to the CCBOE record...again...the following, among a list of questions, (with very long-awaited answers) :

21. I also noted on many of your reports now posted on the web page that Mr. Vu is pursuing the SOS’s OK to make a copy of a paper trail, where there have been paper jams or other printing problems on voting machines.
That seems to defy both AG past opinions and the law both about what constitutes the "official ballot" - which is the VOTER VERIFIED paper trail, which a copy is not - (and given the ESI report where some cards and paper trails and archives did NOT match); and the minimum necessities for the state Board of Voting Examiners to certify and to keep certified voting machines is that they can be relied upon to create each person's official ballot.

I quote, emphasis mine - "Pursuant to R.C. 3506.18(A), in such circumstances, “the voter verified paper audit trail shall serve as the official ballot to be recounted.” R.C. 3506.18(B) mandates that all voter verified paper audit trails “be preserved in the same manner and for the same time period as paper ballots are preserved under [R.C. 3505.31].”

Also - from AG opinion 2006-05
A vendor who desires to have equipment certified submits that equipment and pays a fee. R.C. 3506.05(C). The Board of Voting Machine Examiners examines the equipment and submits a report to the Secretary of State. R.C. 3506.05(D). “If the board finds that the equipment meets the criteria set forth in sections 3506.06, 3506.07 and 3506.104 of the Revised Code, can be used safely and can be depended upon to record and count accurately and continuously the votes of electors, and has the capacity to be warranted, maintained, and serviced, it shall approve the equipment and
recommend that the secretary of state certify the equipment.

With all the reports now coming out about the lack of safety of Diebold equipment, and the lack or dependability of their printers - rather than try to get around each voter having an official ballot, it seems more appropriate to decertify the machines that cannot produce them reliably.

I go on -

"42 U.S.C.A. § 15481(a)(2). Thus, to satisfy HAVA, a voting system must produce a permanent
paper record with a manual audit capacity, and the paper record must be available as an official
record for purposes of any recount. For a DRE voting system, VVPAT constitutes the
permanent paper record that is available for recount. See R.C. 3506.18(A) (“[f]or any recount of
an election in which ballots are cast using a direct recording electronic voting machine with a
verified paper audit trail, the VOTER VERIFIED paper audit trail shall serve as the official ballot to be
recounted”). For a system that uses paper ballots, including a PCOS, the ballots themselves
serve this purpose."

What is the CCBOE planning to do about following these laws?

Answer: The CCBOE will follow guidelines provided by ORC, SOS and HAVA.

22. In item 49 of your most recent issue log there appears a decision made by CCBOE managers not to print 2 long reports from each machine at election close, one of which you had planned to use if a memory card could not be read – and also NOT to print 2 long reports from each machine at election close, to allow one to to be able to post election results at the precinct per RC 3505.30.

First I refer you to HAVA and certification requirements above. If memory cards cannot be read often enough that such a discussion needed to ensue, the machines are not dependable/should not be certified. Second the manager’s decision was that when memory cards cannot be read, to reprint the report from the internal memory as “remakes”. Has anyone there read the ESI report enough to actually consider it and not just deny it? One of the glaring questions still left from May, now unable to be answered at all since you are “transferring data”to CD's – was non matching of the archive memory to their cards. How can the CCBOE validly defend such a bad decision to the public regarding accuracy of election results? If you are worried about running out of paper, change it before the report. If that is too difficult, that is a problem with the machines. If it is cost, I remind you that these thermal rolls cost $1 a piece, hardly a drop in the bucket to better assure accurate results, when compared with the millions that have been rolling out to Diebold. Just how do you defend that decision validly?

Answer: We are printing 2 long reports.

23. In May, the SOS and the CCBOE twisted the concept of ‘remakes” to allow you to have temps enter absentee ballots into DREs for counting. Now this. Where is the line which the CCBOE draws for itself regarding not doing whatever you want to do, despite security and reasonable readings of the law?

Answer: We are printing 2 long reports

It goes on.

Also in this increasing age of low voter turnout, and often tight margins of victory, what has occurred is bombardment of BOE's in the ten days between the unofficial count and the official, by candidates and the media to find out how many verified provisional voters there were, and how many last days' absentees had been cast - all trying to predict the results.

With all the confusion at the polls around provisional voting still, I can see an age coming for some boards (not the current CCBOE staff) to try to take advantage of results manipulation opportunities by again "feeding on" the poor and normally disenfranchised (who because of ID rules, frequent moves, etc. are those most likely to need to vote provisionally) - fooling with provisional verification- whose votes can count and not - or even trying to buy last-minute-made absentee votes.

Observers to this entire process are absolutely necessary.

Last Saturday, the PD ran an article about the prospective number of, and difficulty of, Cuyahoga recounts with Diebold DRE's.
(The problem is the bottom of the article is cut off online... (now frequently occuring - maybe a new plan to boost actual paper subscriptions?) I insert a hard to read version here.

It points out that Cuyahoga prospective recounts from election night results, currently, before the official results, number about 9, even given the new approx. 9,000 votes included in the official count - including such races as those of Lyndhurst Mayor; Beachwood City Council at Large; North Royalton City Council, Ward 6; Olmsted Falls Council at Large; Cuyahoga Heights Village Council; Garfield Heights City Council,; Solon School Board; Strongsville School Board, and others.

A few of the many other Ohio newspapers that headlined low voter turnouts, and lots of races that may be dependent on a few extra votes gleaned after the unofficial count, or on many prospective recounts include:
"Absentee and provisional ballots could change races";, Nov. 9,2007
"Provisional ballots tell tale for operating levy"; (Ashtabula) StarBeacon
"Conneaut (school) board votes may be recounted"; (Ashtabula) StarBeacon
"Close races may take weeks to decide; for many the election won't be over until after Thanksgiving" ; (Trumbull County) Tribune Chronicle
"Election watch: Some races, issue results could change"; (Dover-New Philadelphia, OH) Times Reporter
"Results too close in race for judge"; (Cincinnati) Enquirer
"Think not all votes count? 6 close races show they do";; Nov. 8, 2007

There's no doubt, that lowered voter turn-out increases the chances for inside election fraud in this nation - through widespread inattention, cynicism, resignation, and acceptance of the falsehood that elections belong to the politicians.
And there's also no doubt that the moves to encourage absentee voting (where there's an application for ballot,) or all mail-in voting ( where horribly ballots are sent to every registered voter - the easiest opportunity for all party operatives to buy and sell blank ballots - along with a signed identity envelope - but accepted by most on the concept of "ease";) and to make it harder to vote for whole segments of the population without "acceptable" ID's, or who move around a lot, is offering entirely new ways for nationwide insiders to manipulate our election results.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Say It Isn't So... IT'S SO! Diebold Crashes AGAIN in Official Count

At the final, official 11/6/07 election count today, Sunday, 11/18, there was no reason to believe that the CCBOE Diebold/Premier GEMS tabulator, and their other equipment and election "help" would not flunk out again.

In today's preparing for the board's Election Certification 11/21, Wednesday morning meeting, there were the same amount of memory cards that needed to be uploaded into the Diebold/Premier tabulator, as were done for the unofficial, 11/6 election night count.
The layout was the same as approved by the Diebold tech ...and as was used for all previous elections. And because all of our 11/6 votes needed to stay sealed in the 10 day waiting period between the unofficial and today's official count - nothing could be touched - no, even cursory, analysis could be done about the election night GEMS crashes; nor about the 10 highly worrisome to election security, corrupted memory cards that came in blank, but which gave no poll workers any warning of memory card problems (an updated number from former post,); nor about all the other election day and night Diebold failures,

There was no reason to believe that this 10's of millions of dollars to Diebold system, (at least $20 million to Diebold just from 11/05-11/06) - which also literally holds our very elections, and our public election data in their "confidential," "trade secret" hostage - would not just crash again, bringing "their secrets" into greater ugly light.

How shocking, especially since most of those local millions still pour from county taxpayers' coffers, though Cleveland remains one of the poorest cities in the nation with greatest public financial, survival needs - for taxpayers - not for this irresponsible, incompetent, money-hungry company; and all while our (and all electronic) election systems quite deservedly are garnering increasingly less voter "confidence," thus participation, in a time we so urgently need a reawakening to democracy's basic principles. (On 11/6 there was only about 18% voter turnout in Cuyahoga, similarly very low in most Ohio counties, and across the nation.)

Yes it was "expectable," making it ever more unfathomable -
that this company remains in business, still spreading their easy election manipulation potentials and operational failures across the country, instead of being sued, with their products recalled, so taxpayers could be recompensed our money, so we can develop something that brings accurate election results, provable to us, back into our hands, and securely. And the losses to the nation are far greater than even financial. To not be able to trust our "new, improved" election tools anymore - especially with '08 "presidential" elections AGAIN right around the corner - means cynicism, numbness, and often hopelessness in the face of power manipulation and abuse, replaces real hope for more.

And fail Diebold did - again!
And truly unbelievable, today, the CCBOE found MORE - "mysteries," and increasingly serious security and operational problems.

Also different, today however, (a Browns game day) we didn't even have the fleetingly, pretend furrowed brows of Diebold higher ups on hand, waiting to "help. " Guess they also knew what to expect....

Archie Williams, our tech help on hand was there. But even Larry Calvert, our regional tech rep who lives in nearby Canton,OH, though aware that today was CCBOE's official count day, was glaringly AWOL.

What happened today....
Basically at a final, official count, all the ballots previously counted get re-counted, plus the ballots that could not be counted on election night are included, the latter including the absentees that arrived at the BOE after 11/3 (this election, 5,000+,); provisional votes that needed to be verified after the election, but before the final count (this election, around 3,500); curbside votes; and votes from voters overseas.

Yesterday, Saturday, a full complement of workers were at the CCBOE, opening, sorting into precincts, and double counting (the ballot quantities, not the votes on) the almost 9,000 paper ballots not previously scanned, preparing them for inclusion into the Sunday count.

Yesterday late, the scanners were also again tested with a test deck that tests to make sure they can still properly read write-in votes, over- and under- votes, split precinct votes, numbers where there are multiple winners, etc.

One can't make too sure with Diebold.

After all, Cuyahoga leased enough to have 55 scanners working this election. But out of the scanners Diebold delivered, a full 19 failed their preliminary tests, (compared to what was said as 10-12 similarly failing last November) and some scanners were even sent with the wrong connector hook-ups. All those had to be put aside/packed back up, leaving us short again.

( The question of payment to Diebold for these scanners may come up again publicly with this new board, who've previously expressed huge displeasure and refusal to pay for such negligence.) Though I don't remember the exact number of scanners the CCBOE owns, thus, the number also leased, I know it was expressed that what Diebold delivered represented a 31% failure rate, (!) before the scanners were even used. ( I will seek a copy of the letter I understand was already sent by the CCBOE to Diebold, expressing that extreme displeasure.)

Just a bit about Provisionals - more later...
At shortly after 9am the official count of all paper ballots began. Our Candidate and Voter Services Department, though having finished verifying the bulk of the over 3,000 Provisional ballots over the past 10 days, was still working on some final "few" that were in question, trying (as personally observed) to let as many votes as possible be counted. All the rejected ballots had been checked at least 3 times to make sure that there was no way they could find the voter or count the vote, by law.

One example: for those they could not find in the registration database, (who would have had their vote not counted for not being registered,) they cross checked birth dates, street addresses, voter histories, etc. to make sure the names had not been "merged" with someone else's in the new statewide base - which at least for counties using the local Diebold registration system (DIMS,) now statewide uses another Diebold product (!) - DIXI.
(I have to do much more research on this statewide system... to know the prevalence of DIXI use.)

It seems that sweet-sounding DIXI, like (appropriately) dim-sounding DIMS (Diebold Information Management System,) also lets operators accidentally merge one voter's registration with another's, with no warnings, which would mistakenly wipe a person off the registration rolls/not have the vote counted, each time that happens.

At least now, with LOTS of local BOE time and diligence - only for those who are willing to pay attention and apply it - those merged names do not get trashed, but are held in "history" files, so voters can be properly reinstated. (In the relatively short time I watched the verification process, last Wednesday, I witnessed 2 such searchings and then appropriate registration reinstatements.)

So, at shortly after 9am today, about 50 workers started the official count - re-scanning the almost 24,000 previously scanned and first scanning the approximate 5000 + "new" absentee votes.

They then moved to the verified Provisionals, again around 3,000+ - a total of now around 32,000 paper ballots.

(I don't believe that any absentee votes came in from overseas (including military) in the 10 day waiting period for this rather local election, but still a fact to be checked, regarding whether proper outreach was made, or if overseas voters are just not caring about local elections any longer.)

They finished that paper ballot phase at about 2:30 pm.
The provisionals took the longest per ballot, since for every precinct, the workers must doublecheck that they have the correct number of ballots/ the tabulator is reading each precinct correctly, etc. But for provisionals there are usually only a few to zero ballots per precinct, while all the scanning double checking still must occur.

I will make a fuller report about provisional numbers later, and the still large problems they reflect/(they cause?) after the final numbers are released on Wednesday.
What I do know and can state definitively here is that once again, the two most frequent reasons for needing to reject provisional ballots, by law, are voters voting in the Wrong Precinct (though almost half the time they were in the right room (!), just the wrong table;) and voters who were not registered.

What has become known by many as the "Voter Suppression Bill" - last year's Ohio HB3 - nonsensically demands detailed ID's, and a statewide voter registration data base (see DIXI above) but still rejects the entire ballot of a person who gets to the right location, but the wrong table! Certainly there must be a way to code elections that truly are precinct-specific ( like certain zoning issues) and to let all other vote's count for all that apply for those people - even so long as a voter is in the right county, let alone, in the right room.

More Diebold Tabulator Crashes...and Worse...

After a lunch break, most workers returned for the infamous memory card re-upload. That process started out at about 3:30 pm, "rather swimmingly," actually making people question even more what happened on election night. Nothing had substantively changed - in the cards, the process, the layout. On election night, the tabulator crashed after only about 1/2 hour.

People were thinking/looking - what was different on 11/18; and what was different on 11/6 from all previous elections run on that system.
Some of the conjectures were that on election night there are usually a number of memory cards which had not been properly "ended"/closed-out at the polls, that are found by inserting them for uploading, then after rejection, sending to another tabulation station for "ending" so they can be uploaded. That was different on 11/6/07 from 11/18, but not different from previous election nights.
Another conjecture was that on 11/6 those 10 corrupted/blank memory cards were found by trying to upload them.

Another was that the sun was shining on 11/18....

But the questioning optimism began faltering a bit only about 15 minutes into the process, when many operators were noticing they were getting an "error/time out" message on their TSx screens - which seemed able to be made to go away, with no compromise to results, just by inserting the next memory card. Given Diebold's track records, this obviously could be quite worrisome.
That problem was determined, by it's approximate 5-minute intervals, to be probably caused because something called the "J-Report" (sp?) which runs in the background and updates by default every 5 minutes. The J-Report, is what puts results into reporting format, with charts, for projection onto the large screen in the CCBOE media area. It was felt that was probably a memory resource problem.

THEN another problem appeared - a memory card that had been OK on election night, was giving the error message on 11/18 that it was "bad media." The many various ways that could cause a card that had been locked up, to 11 days later, show up as corrupted could indicate a very serious system security problem, not just an operational one.
Further, that card, one from Holy Redeemer Church in Cleveland, meant that again, the CCBOE had to on Monday, go out and retrieve all the approximate 12 machines from the warehouse or if not back yet, from location, re-set them up, match the corrupted card to the right machine, and again, burn another memory card to retrieve all those votes - just as they had to do for 10 cards/10 locations, until 11:30 am the day after the election to report those unofficial results.

(I checked. When they burned those new memory cards they did label them as recreated cards, and kept them with the original corrupted ones.)

Shortly after - but presently certainly not indicating definite cause and effect - and almost an hour into the uploading, the message that previously indicated the tabulator was about to crash appeared on the server.

I didn't quite catch the error message, something I know I can find out, but it was something like 00008.... a memory error...something like the "memory that the system was trying to reference could not be found!"

GEMS then crashed at about 4:25.
This time, unlike election night, however, it did not bring the Tsx machines down with it.

After the crash and reboot, MORE problems showed up.

Three operators then noticed that when they attempted to upload cards they had not uploaded
( they have a system to keep track of what's done,) they got a message saying those cards had already been uploaded.
- At times those precincts DID show up in the tabulator.
- BUT when they checked the paper trail running on each machine, those precincts were NOT represented there!!!

Big and various errors, with the paper trails not even matching up....!!!

They stopped the entire process at that point again, ran a whole report, and checked it against the unofficial results.

And as they were finishing all 5,793 cards, they found that some of the cards that were in process while the tabulator was crashing, were showing in the end, as "missing precincts." Again, there were no pre-warnings. They had to go back and re-upload those again.

At about 6 pm, when no one was uploading anything, because they were finishing, and some workers were signing out...ANOTHER GEMS crash...

At about 6pm, with just the approximate 40 "missing precincts" left to do; about 20 more provisionals that had been in question and the CVS department had found they could verify, left to scan; and with the machines that needed to be brought back from Holy Redeemer to burn a replacement memory card left to do - the Diebold GEMS server crashed again.

The "perfect" end to the Diebold day.

Is this what you want tabulating our votes???

In the end, I saw that the CCBOE did everything they could possibly do - for hours - to make sure that the vote counts were accurate while being limited by these Diebold major failures. But is this what you want tabulating OUR votes???

I understand that Diebold DOES now want to come in after all recounts are done, to do their own analysis.
I'm sure they do...! .... to make up more of the same years long stories about what the CCBOE did "wrong" with their "fabulous" equipment.

And I think that the CCBOE needs to charge Diebold - Diebold-like exorbitant, rental fees on our machines - for doing their R&D, which should have been done years ago, before they paid their "certifying" labs for "testing", and before they sold their election-manipulatable stuff to anyone, including us.

The CCBOE needs to do their own independent evaluation, possibly now scheduled with the Secretary of State's testing. (Chris Nance, Assistant Secretary of State was there yesterday, witnessing the whole debacle, as you'll see in the video below, as soon as I can get the Google video uploader working again.) Maybe to get some


Diebold is no "Premier" company - far from it! We need to get our money back, trash these Diebold products, and move on...and quickly!

Hand counted paper ballots, that are humanly marked and readable and verifiable - for OUR elections, including for President - is the very best answer.

I would accept at this point, precinct based scanners - preferably from a company with pristine accountability, and preferably with open-source software (that which is not secret and can be checked by many computer experts, that all it's essentially doing is counting, not changing the voter's will.) - absolutely NOT from Diebold.

That way, everyone marks a paper ballot even at the polls, the ballots can be scanned at the polls to check for under and over-votes, and to create a preliminary count which would later be audited by hand; the ballots drop into separate, locked box; the precinct scanner results can be posted for viewing at every precinct on election night, so we can follow our results from the polls, to check for reasonableness against final totals; and with a truly very high speed scanner (thousands of ballots per hour) that also photos every ballot, the CCBOE can do it's pre-audited central election night count.

Any other conclusion - including that taxpayers would again have to pay for some other even good or another debacle decision that that may come from the Secretary of State's so far too closely held testing from the public - only including election directors, vendors (like Diebold) and testers some of whom are of unclear origin, but not regular citizens - would be completely insufficient for OUR elections.

Below is Official Count video, taken when I was NOT in the tabulator room as an official observer, but from outside the glass tabulator room windows - from the media area.