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

Saturday, December 15, 2007

PD articles on Brunner's- (my concept-) "fishy ramming" - Incl. Prospective Cuyahoga Timeline!

1. Brunner wants return to simpler voting times - 12/15/2007
Good coverage. Bad title.
That's what Brunner
wants us to think - or to just accept and blindly "trust" as we don't even have time to think - just like HAVA 2002 which brought us to today, and this time in two weeks, during Christmas holidays.... - as she makes what only appears to be a good move - toward paper ballots, so long needed.
while doing that, she's also imposing such ridiculous notions as recommendations:
  • which don't even follow her the testers'"reports" - where they said that ALL the systems, thus also their monied manufacturers who make them and weakly try to defend them while they sell, are untrustworthy. And they all said the entire election landscape needs overhauling, including the people systems. Yet she wants us to buy MORE from the same people!..while also leaving the same BOE people in place, many of whom have been evidenced to have broken the public trust in '04 and since. (NOT CURRENT CUYAHOGA officials - a refreshing example of transparency, intelligence, willingness to work - very hard, honesty and citizen respect.)
  • which lure decision makers with dollars - OUR tax dollars from any level - for apparently her political agenda, and apparently that of others - for our OUR presidential supposed choices - while all eyes are on her/Ohio. And most important-
  • which remove all possibilities for valid citizen oversight of our ballots and counting, and all possibilities for a truly valid audit of our election;
  • nonsensically (from an administrative and management perspective...) which obliterate even minimal administrative and management priniciples.
  • and which have us "just forgetting about" the hundreds of millions Ohioans have already fed the untrustworthy folks.
She knows it would take a minimum of a year, and the money would be far better used, to begin to develop a system that really could work according to BOE and citizen requirements for a decent, trustworthy election.
And truly simpler times would include such things as:
  • honoring precinct level citizen voting, watching and counting;
  • hand counting at the precinct level (at least the federal races) before anything disappears anywhere into anyone's hands or machinery, and posting those results at the precinct;
  • getting our millions back for defective, wrongly represented products we were duped into purchasing;
  • and further honoring the intelligence of voters - not trying to take elections from us, while trying to sell us on ease and ... .... .... ..... cost savings!
Also as predicted *, a quote:
"Brunner said she could compel Cuyahoga to change equipment if the board, which is under her administrative oversight, doesn't make the decision."
"Sometimes the best use of power is not to use it," she said. "I want the voters of Cuyahoga County to have confidence in what their board does."
Right. In the whole week, allowing for probably 3-minute presentations, she's allowing, for voters to watch and help them decide.

* see

2.Highlights of new voting system - 12/15/2007

And perhaps, most astonishing - even from the basic management principles we need from a state chief elections officer, is this one:
3. Prospective timeline for voting system changes - 12/15/2007

It seems to me, that Deep Throat - both the movie and and governmental interpretations - may be at play here...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

More EVEREST Background from 9/20/07 CCBOE Public Technology Forum-Digital Guardian & more...

On 9/20 the CCBOE was preparing this excellent public forum on technology, while SoS Brunner was meeting with a lobbyist, to select BOE officials under her service, to meet confidentially to make recommendations to the legislature for what she wants. For your comparison of just a bit of what was already publicly known on 9/20, and what comes out in Brunner's EVEREST findings:

Almost all
(ran out of film) of the end of the afternoon's 9/20/07 Q&A session, after there had been a presentation about the September California report, to which we were responding :

Monday, December 10, 2007

SoS Brunner's consideration of citizens in her "election reform" process

At the bottom of this post is the text of Assistant Secretary of State, Chris Nance's email, which arrived in my email inbox on December 7, 2007, the end date of testing, responding to months-long, numerous professional attempts to have independent citizens, with no partisan or other vested interests, be able to oversight and weigh in with SoS selected BOE officials, politicians, testers and vendors on redaction of the testing reports to the public, and recommendations to be made from them about our elections. These attempts began in general in April, and more specifically when the testing subject "re-arose" almost completely planned in June, then since.

That message is both misleading to those who don't know the facts, especially about the SoS's and the VRI, VoteTech sub-group's actions and intentions, and was Nance's "next week" answer promised on November 13, the day before the SoS-planned, 3-hour "field trip" to the testing facility, and their presentation there, which required the signing of the daunting Non-Disclosure Agreement, complete with a date of termination of rights and responsibilities, of October 16,
2017 - but for no meaningful reason, nor equal access to oversight.

That November 13th email - following 2 conference calls, which followed many emails to their office, and direct in-person approach on September 20, (first film) requesting inclusion, many evoking assurances that SoS Brunner had always planned for that to happen said:

Good Morning,
In the interest of time let me get to the point of my email - I do not yet have an answer to the question (s) concerning the role of the VoteTech work group subsequent to the visit/orientation at the State of Ohio Computer Center (SOCC). Consequently, I understand that some of you may choose to participate in the SOCC tour/orientation tomorrow and some of you may not. Anyone who does participate -either in person or via conference call - will have to sign the NDA. As I mentioned on the phone Thursday, I appreciate your questions and I hope that you will share additional questions with the test teams. I hope to have a response to the questions that have been raised within the next week. Thanks.

Christopher B. Nance
Assistant Secretary of State
State of Ohio
180 E. Broad Street, 16th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
614-466-2655 (main)
614-644-0764 (direct)
614-485-7625 (fax)

That was sent in response to my email:


Dear Chris, Kellye and All,

Thanks for the phone conference this am, and for sticking with this process, as we attempt to bring it to one creating greater transparency, democratic dynamic, and one that can create a truly deserved greater public confidence in our voting systems - both the people and the machines - not in any way, less.

A critical factor that becomes clear as we speak, is that recent years of fast-building public outcry, dissent, and at times downright disgust and disconnection regarding election insecurities, wrongly placed priorities; long-impacted dynamics of political patronage, insider political/financial deals, etc. which eventually shut voters out of any say about our own election processes - can be generally placed into two categories:

1. the "personnel" - election officials, system vendors, and testers who may also have their own financial and other self-interests in mind, and incumbents and appointees making the people's election rules and guidelines, not always in public, nor in the public's best interest, but their own, etc.; and

2. the "machines" themselves.

The current machine systems, of course, to date, via many already scientifically done reports and thorugh in-field experience, have shown that they:

• inherently, as "black boxes" canNOT provide the transparency necessary for the most essential factor of elections - that the public, the owners of elections, needs and wants to be able to watch the counting for ourselves/be able to ascertain for ourselves, with no computer codes, that what we're told as the "winners" are really our collective choices, and that our votes are private, etc.

• as "black boxes" also held behind profit-making,
private and "proprietary" interests, cuts the public further off, and very wrongly so, from our own election "results," while we are the ones who must live under "their" "results," and while we are the ones paying mounting enormous sums for them, and for the people who run them "inside" - only supposedly, for us/the people (since we can rarely see "inside.")

• as "black boxes" they are also frought with proven, multitudes of, and at the most foundational, thus, the largest, levels, computer security and operational holes and failures, - allowing to undetectably create or change our "results" to inside advantage, especially for those with the most inside access and often with our no longer useful D/R elections systems, the ones with the most self-serving vestments in election "results."

• even operationally, are unfit for the election use intended - especially the touchscreens. (Just for starters, refer to such concepts as
-failing, and hard to see printers, that keep the our ballots inside the machine, not separately for an outside check;
-tabulators that cannot handle quantities of information causing slower, rather than the faster returns of integrity, as was a promised reason for their being purchased;
-the fragility and overly detailed nature of their set up and operation at polling places, for most poll workers of reasonable intelligence in the given amount of time they have to learn and perform, which is seemingly caused by cheapest, incompetent design and construction, which also causes longer lines and huge payrolls just for people to tend to failing machines in the field;
-soaring costs for maintenance and sole-source supplies
- the VVPAT's and in the case of Diebold, also GEMS - unfitness for conducting reasonably efficient recounts
- the massive number of hours/days of payrolled time to do what boards call L&A testing, which in the end, when talking about true computer security, still prove
nothing about the machines' accuracy, sameness to all other machines, fitness for all ballot styles, etc.
Such truer and necessary L&A testing, however would take far more person-hours and weeks than boards can afford.
- the now upgrowth of the new seeming necessity for a whole new, additionally completely opaque layer of possibly self-interested people, whom the public is to and must again blindly trust - the academic and computer "experts" - to tell us how to "audit" our results to know whether to be "confident" in the machines; to do such auditing; to test the machines; and to write books and make tv appearances....
- and on, and on... )

The age-old human bent for wanting to manipulate any election - even high school ones - toward own wishes has truly run amok in this nation - with the stakes as high as "wealth and domination" - the dynamic and process now can easily have little to do with the most apparent ballots or voters - but far more with computer savvy, inside access, and media spin: wholesale undetectable election fraud, not even minutely existent voter fraud.

Increasingly fewer people are still operating under the long-built false myth about who owns, thus must control the people's elections: are re-awakening to the fact that
the people are the owners, and thus we must oversight "the personnel." Thus transparency even in this new machine testing process, needs to be the guiding force, and must take first precedence to all other competing interests for secrecy, even currently where transparency must still be measured carefully against specific proprietary claims.

Yet generally in the RFP for this testing process, and in the the answers the SoS gave to the Ohio Controlling Board to obtain the taxpayer-paid $1.8 million dollar funding for this project, it was stated on page 3, in #3:

"This office has generally taken a pragmatic approach to assisting Ohio's election officials in meeting their statutory responsibilities while working to ensure fair elections and assure voter confidence."

That concept, still is backwards.

Fair, open, honest elections, for, of and by the people, while following all election laws comes first/is the core. The SoS pragmatism of assisting Ohio's election officials to meeting their responsibilities is secondary, and must always be defined only by the first concept, first. The SoS must protect and honor voters first, not election officials, especially those who demonstrate that they do not understand that they are employed by the public, to conduct the people's fair, open, transparent, honest elections.

Recent history in Ohio and across the nation, however, shows definitively that the public can NOT and must not blindly trust election officials, or "testers," - or anyone else, to even follow current laws, let alone determine our results alone. It takes all of us watching to keep all of us honest.
(See traditions of political patronage, partisan or other self-interests, etc. above.)

Given that "personnel" fact, coupled with the insecure black boxes especially vulnerable to inside manipulation, so often hidden behind walls of secrecy, it's no wonder that there is such huge outcry to the public's lack of oversight and complete disconnection about our elections processes and results - though elections are the very cornerstone and seed of our democracy, of hope, of peace.

However still, in this testing process, election officials, some of publicly unproven integrity, have again been placed in core positions of determining the "trustworthiness" of the machines referred to above/again are being placed in the core of making decisions about the people's elections - with not even any checks or balances from the people.

By signing the NDA, at least 12 of these possibly questionable election officials, then a final four, (who may be swayed by such things as their own traditions, their ease, or even some party or job loyalties) will be exposed to oversighting the testing process, the non-redacted versions of the reports yielded, and presumably what conclusions are to be recommended. The citizen advocates of the VRI, on the other hand, to date, are only assured that by signing the same NDA we get to volunteer to see the facility, meet some testers, and see whatever others decide should or should not be presented to us. In the answers to my questions about the NDA, which is forwarded below, it is even noted that should we even sign the NDA and take the "interesting" field trip to the SOCC that we should:

"Please note that you may not be exposed to any Confidential Information while visiting the SOCC or during your participation."

As noted in both conference calls re: this process to date, we in the tech group of the VRI have agreed to volunteer, and have done so with intelligence and diligence - just to meaningfully attempt to help build bridges between the now all too "traditional" but falsely held "inside" and "outside" - to improve the election process - for the people.

The NDA thus, on an ideological level rubs against most in the group's original ideological prioritizations for election transparency. More specifically, it could also potentially completely muzzle us. Even further, it seemingly does so for no meaningful reasons - even not for very specific current proprietary needs for secrecy, (especially if we're not shown anything confidential such as unredacted reports nor included in confidential conversations, plus being not quite sure what we can and cannot say.)
Our own such signing does not (yet) allow us to engage in any meaningful, timely dialogue - even with the above-referenced election officials, and with testers, all of ultimately unknown motivations - so we can make sure the people's views are equally clearly heard and considered before the report becomes public.

I certainly hope such VRI-Tech proposed involvement is rethought and expanded, so our group's signing of such NDA, equal to election officials signing, brings us equally to access, to the unredacted reports, and to the discussion table with election officials and testers.

I also hope that for everyone's sake, that the public version of testing reports presents a 1.5 - 2 week period of questions and comments from the public, as was brilliantly suggested by Sibley, before the final version is taken to the legislature. Though this may seem "messy" or "inefficient" and not worthy of the "extra" few weeks, the benefits to authentic public "confidence" and the implementation of such a truly democratic process about the democratic process of elections, are necessary, would be huge, and would far outweigh any more short-sighted "efficiencies."

Because every election brings in its own set of "winners" who immediately act on their own building agendae, often gluttonously, at times to create more election-"winning" "guidelines" and strategies - such as redistricting, or HAVA, - in addition to their prioritizing use of the military, bombs, spying, torture, spreading fear and hate, etc. it is time for us to move forthrightly, no longer patiently trying to put thousands of band-aids on broken election personnel- and machine- systems that can NOT be "mitigated" - to get the election process righted, put back into the oversight of the people, in a way that can hold all the partisan conflicts and campaign strategies and dirty tricks, but that in the end, everyone can know that the announced winners came from the people's collective will. The people will not patiently swallow yet another highly questionable election as in 2000 and 2004, no matter how much media spin is placed.

Again, thanks for the conference call this am. I think we positively achieved alot, as especially Chris made sure that we were all listening to one another and making our views known clearly. I hope we can together take these views to the necessary next step of citizen participation.

And, just in case Kellye gets more busy than I, and because I had this response close at hand from last evening, I forward to the VRI Tech group the responses I received to my questions re: the NDA and the Tech group's proposed involvement in EVEREST testing and reporting.


Here's Chris's December 7, "next" message:

Dear Vote Tech Workgroup members. On behalf of Chris Nance, I am forwarding the below memo to you. Thank you, Kellye Pinkleton

December 7, 2007

TO: VRI Vote Tech Work Group

FR: Christopher B. Nance, Assistant Secretary of State


I would like to thank you for your patience since we last spoke on conference call several weeks ago. Since that time there have been some questions and concerns raised which will be addressed in this memorandum.

As you know, all were offered and a few were actually able to participate in the Vote Tech workgroup tour of the testing facility at the State of Ohio Computer Center here in Columbus. During that visit we provided an opportunity to visit with members of the test teams, observe the testing environment and engage in a discussion with our respective project team leaders. There seemed to be two factors that limited the actually number of Vote Tech members that were actually able to attend; travel/schedule constraints as well as a decision by others not to sign the non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Just to be clear, every single individual that has entered into the testing area is required to sign the NDA - there are no exceptions to this protocol. At the same time we respect the individual choice of any Vote Tech workgroup member not to sign the NDA.

At that time some questions were raised about additional participation of work group members in the overall project. As you may know, there are a group of election officials that were asked by Secretary Brunner to be involved in the review of reports as an extension of their sworn duty as local election officials. Volunteer participation in the VRI Vote Tech workgroup is a valuable contribution to civic engagement yet it is different than the statutory responsibilities of election officials. Consequently, Vote Tech workgroup members will not be involved in the review of EVEREST findings before the release of the public report.

The January meeting (to be announced soon) of the Voting Rights Institute will include an opportunity for Vote Tech workgroup members as well as the overall Council to engage in a discussion on the major findings of the EVEREST project. We believe that the results of the study will position the opportunity for important enhancements in the integrity of Ohio’s elections.

Christopher B. Nance
Assistant Secretary of State
State of Ohio
180 E. Broad Street, 16th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
614-466-2655 (main)
614-644-0764 (direct)
614-485-7625 (fax)

"Volunteer participation in the VRI Vote Tech workgroup is a valuable contribution to civic engagement yet it is different than the statutory responsibilities of election officials. Consequently, Vote Tech workgroup members will not be involved in the review of EVEREST findings before the release of the public report." ??

On December 7? And at what "time" did Chris represent questions were asked about citizens having meaningful participation in the process, possibly worthy of signing the NDA, not just a supposedly satisfying "field trip?"

I read the above as, "we can control what BOE officials say, who statutorily "serve at the pleasure of the SoS," but we cannot control citizen speech (thank God) - which in addition to citizens having no inside deal-making power, puts us through the lens - of being "outside" the "election reform" process - to be tolerated, gracious to, and put off and shut out whenever it is so desired.
And as you may have already gleaned, I would not characterize my own reaction, at least, as "patience."

(To see the facts, for comparison and the actual story around the NDA, see Has Cuyahoga been set up for failure? - "Questions to possibly ask"- numbers 3 and 4.)

Please attend on December 17 at 9 am

Though only a short weekend after Brunner's redacted EVEREST testing report will be released to the public, the CCBOE in their now vastly abbreviated consideration of next voting systems, as imposed by SoS Brunner, and as apparently confirmed in their executive session conference call with her office near the end of the board meeting last Friday afternoon, has decided to nevertheless consider public input on Monday, December 17, at 9am in board chambers. (See film below of the end of that meeting.)

(For comparison with the reasonableness of their normal and expected technology timelines, see 11/27 statement, (12/6 post) -"Good news! Sandy McNair anticipates a second CCBOE Public Forum on Technology, (mid January, and after holidays) to consider SoS testing reports and other items of public interest")

I understand that both SoS Brunner and Assist. SoS, Chris Nance, have been invited to also attend. Hopefully at least one will find the time to do so, so the also hopefully many citizens attending, can ask some tough questions of them - not so much right now about the details of their reports, which can be probably handled in their still non-scheduled "citizen comment" time, sometime in January; but about Brunner's motivations in delaying her testing; keeping non-partisan, non-vested citizens out of our machine testing process, but not other vested interests; and her now sudden December 7 "worry," forcing Cuyahoga into an invalid, either-or, untenable, no-win decision for our March 4, presidential primary - a decision that either way seemingly promotes keeping some form of insider hackable, improperly operable electronic machines, made by irresponsible, but power and money-wielding private corporations, but with a change could begin to re-institute them widely again, and for a long time, and at a huge taxpayer price tag - again!

For more information, please see Has Cuyahoga been set up for failure?

and see film of Nance's 9/20 presentation about the testing, and his answers to some tough questions about it here.

Here's the film of the end of last Friday's CCBOE December 7, board meeting, the day the PD article, came out, "Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner wants new voting system for Cuyahoga."
Also see a discussion of that article at "Brunner's heating up the frying pan..."

To be noted, that before the executive session actually started, a few of the board members expressed agreement with what I had stated as seen in the film, and seemingly did not think Brunner would force the decision she did. After we returned into the room, granted after a long day, and at about 6:30pm, the air there felt
unusually drained and tense.

Has Cuyahoga been set up for failure?

Giving the CCBOE anything less than a minimum of 6-9 months to analyze, select, contract with, install, test, setup, and train staff and few thousand poll workers on a new voting system is nothing more than a recipe for total failure, and the Secretary of State's office knows this. So, why is she telling Cuyahoga that they should migrate to a new system by the March 4 presidential primary, actually only 2-months from now?
Is the SoS playing politics?

Then let's add a few other facts she definitely knows, as she "administrative oversights" the CCBOE (instituted
when she swore in the new board early this year, interestingly projected until after the '08 primary)
The CCBOE still today, 12/10, is finishing the last of daily work and certification of 11/6 recounts; and setting up ballots, polls and otherwise conducting a special election in Cleveland Ward 14 next Tuesday, Dec. 18; and beginning the Diebold on-site analysis of the their failures from the 11/6 election. Also requiring the current, interdependent Diebold system are - they're in the middle of receiving candidate filings for the primary, due Jan. 4, when they'll know who all is on each of the 1436 precincts' D and R, March partisan primary ballots, They also have to in early January, get those many, complicated, but all important ballot definition files ready and proofed - the same files that must later tell whatever scanners and tabulator is used, what the marks and codes mean/ what vote goes to whom. This is because ballot printer, who by the way, has taken months, to calibrate all of his ballot-printing equipment to the less than hair width tolerance needed by the current Diebold scanners - can have all the ballots tested and ready for the primary's absentee balloting, which begins on Feb. 8 - and it would be nice, statutorily, to have ballots. And I forgot the Diebold voter registration system that's finally almost integrated into the whole current system, with registrations for the presidential primary statutorily closing Feb. 4; ...and there's Christmas and New Year.
So what's really motivating the SoS's "sudden 12/7 worry" about Cuyahoga's years' long Diebold problems and push to change?

As Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones stated to the PD: "To me, all the options are remote - none of them desirable. It's a difference between the bad, the ugly and the ugliest."

For citizens concerned about true election reform in Cuyahoga, Ohio and the nation, it seems that instead of right now further pressuring Cuyahoga, or getting too immediately absorbed in analyzing and discussing all the details of Brunner's report due to come out Friday, but which can be dealt with a bit later, we need to first put priority focus on Brunner herself - asking her some tough questions and not just accepting normal sound bites, in too easily megaphoned "official statements."

Some possible questions to ask:
1. Why did she delay even going to the Ohio Controlling Board for the funds for her $1.8 million testing, (though it was SoS spoken about in March, June, and SoS-reported as pretty much selected, timelined, and solidified the third week in August) until after the California results came out in early September, and upon which California's SoS Bowen then immediately decertified all of California's DRE's?

2. Why did she proceed with her own tests, when the California report already had affirmed and expanded upon previous years of similar scientific studies; and while there are plenty of reports of operational problems from the field - from across the country - and in Cuyahoga? (VotersUnite! is but one of many good places to start.)

3. Why she did she only involve in her hush-hush developed, and murkily-goaled testing:

* See the confirming document about Ockerman here, provided by the OEJC.

4. Why did she put off and string-along for months, then finally refuse on the end date of testing, multiple requests from knowlegeable, highly respected citizen election integrity advocates - with no partisan or vested interests, only the eye and voice of the taxpayers and citizen voters - to be equally represented in testing oversight and recommendations to the legislature, thus, for recommending the next best steps from our current corporate- and insider-controlled vote "counting"?

She even did such "running out the clock" with her own selected Voting Rights Institute, said in "official statements" to be an "Advisory Council," but which in the main, has been permitted to accomplish little toward the citizen advocates' agreed-upon priorties toward actual election reform. That's been done with such concepts as I've experienced, months-delayed necessary answers from her office, and circling, late restarts and redirections of months-long already done work, with still no goaled conclusions.

Her VRI technology focussed, "VoteTech" sub-group, was offered a late (November 14,) pre-planned, seeming "class field trip" to the testing facility, in the face of our months-long requests for citizen inclusion into proposed EVEREST testing, since April. However, even then we were given no worthwhile reason to sign the prerequisite Non-Disclosure Agreement *- presented to us in November - daunting in its technical lack of clarity about our clear ability to state even our own opinions about publicly-held knowledge about vendors, which they may still consider proprietary; and with a termination date of "rights and responsibilities" on October 16, 2017.

*This NDA as clearly explained to us, was the one prepared for Election Officials, thus their mention throughout. It was presented for example after asking for such, for consideration of our own signing. The VRI VoteTech group's we were told would have our group's name, where ever "election official" presently occurs. I did send an email asking questions about specifics of the NDA, and did get answers from the SoS attorney handling it. Those answers, though they addressed my questions, still left questions about legal liability, if signed.

Upon questioning, we were told that by signing, we could attend the interesting 3-hour facility visit, and we could "submit our concerns to the SoS office in writing" - not get the weekly update reports, nor the unredacted final versions, nor the oversight and recommending abilities of the "insiders" (my word, their concept.) Upon the question of, "would we get answers to our submitted questions and concerns," (unlike the too frequent experience of the year's VRI) we were given some version of "we may be too busy....with our tasks."

5. Why should we so blindly trust her office or anyone with our vote counts, when out of her office this year we've also heard and seen such things as:
  • pushes toward beginning (with issues-only races) all "mail-in voting"/sending ballots out to every registered voter, which while easily "sold" on ease and cost savings, also presents one of the easiest ways for election fraud and vote buying/selling to occur, and makes election auditing virtually impossible.
  • a recount directive that says it reinstates a valid "random" selection of the sample of ballots to be scrutinized, but then on page six of same, also demands a blatantly non-random procedure that assures anyone so inclined to manipulate an election before it begins, to know not to do that in precincts with lowest number/letter designations, only with the remaining approximate 80%.
  • a heard-about in August, upcoming SoS directive that was to declare as NON-public information, the names of those who had to vote provisionally, and whether their votes were rejected, and for what reason. A deserved VRI brouhaha ensued against any proposal that would remove this main check and balance to help BOE's and the state update their present, non-thoroughly corrected voter registration bases; and to assure that provisional voting is used to widen enfranchisement, not to suppress or diminish equal voting rights. We "submitted our concerns in writing," had a teleconference meeting in, if I remember, late August, heard very briefly Brunner's concerns that made no logical sense to me - that she did not want provisional voters "harassed," (though their choices still would be unknown, and they could not go back and change their ballots/only update their registrations.) No resolution of this matter has been published - rather like the testing report to date, upon which she supposedly presents her non-tenable, invalid, either-or decision for Cuyahoga for the '08 March presidential primary.
Mistakes? Too busy? Maybe. But maybe not.

With all that, and much more not listed here, once again, we must look at Cuyahoga's presented choice, with a priority question about Brunner.

After "sleeping on" what I observed from the short board comments after the CCBOE executive session on December 7, before which they announced that they were to engage in a conference call with the SoS office; and feeling their suddenly pressured, vastly-abbreviated timeline for decision-making in a sudden no-win choice after the call, here's one "gut-level take" I had.

No matter if Cuyahoga changes or does not, and without proper questioning of Brunner on the subject of just what her reasoning and motivations are for putting Cuyahoga in this lose-lose, impossible bind, Brunner can still come out appearing to be a "knightess" of election reform - when maybe she's not.

If her testing again affirms just how bad the Diebold DRE's are, especially with Cuyahoga's unique additional capacity challenges, she's made "the proper" move; and she has done that in a way
, while the nation's eyes are all on Ohio, that she can not only still be made to look like a powerful election reformer, she can also do so without too badly shaking up the current vendors, or the politicians who love them.

In fact, this way actually promotes the nationwide re-institutionalization of our paying a second round of taxpayer billions, without thought and serious consideration of better alternatives, to the same untenable, too-closed circle of current irresponsible, power and money-wielding vendors of both DRE's and OptiScans; while allowing citizens' elections to remain to be easily and undetectably manipulated from the inside - where no citizens are to tread, let alone understand or see.

Any crash and burn resulting from either way Cuyahoga moves from this SoS imposed, impossible choice - one which may even need unknown technicians inside our machines for the presidential primary - could easily be made to come out in the press as no one's fault but "good old, bad Cuyahoga - again!" - "the Cuyahoga reputation" - absolutely no longer deserved.

Or one could always again easily blame the several thousand poll workers - an also misrepresented group, without a self-defending voice - most of whom are dedicated, but may probably be asked (by the SoS) to learn far too much in 4 low-paid hours, and to perform perfectly in a one-long-day, mission-critical stint on election day - in order to either "defend against" her "new found" security flaws in Diebold DRE's, or to switch their learning again to a new system.

Nor would any Cuyahoga failure look like a particular party's recommendation, nor the OH legislature's, which currently, (and I'm still guessing, as is the entire public, about Brunner's plan) is seemingly to come after the holidays. Nor does it even have to be made to look like the fault of the vendors themselves.

If Cuyahoga jumps to her change, though who will pay for it is still up for grabs, most would think the new ones must be good! "The decision" was made, after "the tests" and the millions were even spent again!
Or if Cuyahoga stays with the so-far "known evil" of the Diebold DRE's the public can be made to think that Cuyahoga had their chance, but they refused, so in essence, they get what they deserve. And that can also be made to mean that Diebold DRE machines are really not so bad after all; they just need some (of course, expensive and impossible to thoroughly execute) "mitigations."

I think that even while various bills are still rolling around in Congress, demanding everything from hand counted paper ballots to mandatory audits, it's important to find out why the SoS would get so suddenly "worried," on Dec. 7 to put Cuyahoga, the largest voting district in Ohio, and one of the largest in the U.S. so clearly between a rock and hard place, while in essence promoting no sufficient thought or citizen input, but the same insider-hackable machines from private, proprietary, power and money wielding vendors, for our March 4 presidential primary, and very possibly then, long into the future.

Until I see whatever possibly equally untenable "mitigations" Brunner might also suddenly in mid-December, demand for our Diebold DRE's, and for other DRE counties, it seems wisest for Cuyahoga to hold tight, take their same wise, citizen-included decision-making path, and to clearly state:
• their being in favor of a new system, while also stating that it will take almost a year to do that properly, so that should be done in a reasonable time-frame, and then launched in small election first; AND clearly re-state, their constantly-demonstrated position,
• that they welcome citizen input and help, and are agreeable to the maximum oversight possible, to create as much transparency to US
as possible in whatever system they use.

At least we know that Brunner will probably be having a Merry Christmas....

9/20/07 CCBOE Excellent Public Forum: Chris Nance, Assist. SoS, answers questions and presents about SoS EVEREST testing

Why, in our sit and wait and guess period imposed by Brunner's EVEREST testing, maybe while her selected BOE officials, politicians and vendors turn the unredacted testing reports into their redacted versions for public consumption (with no independent citizen oversight) on Friday, December 14 - might we question Brunner's highly-delayed, questionably secretive to "outsiders" (us) testing process?

Listen to this portion of the second Q&A Session from the CCBOE's excellent 9/20/07 public forum on voting machines, after Chris Nance, Assistant Secretary of State made his presentation about the then-just starting SoS EVEREST testing.

At some near point, I will explain more about my questions, including about the new, non-current Diebold equipment that she had planned to test; about the SysTest apparent conflict of interest; and about handing over her decision to Ohio legislators, not the people when I have the time it takes about this rather complicated subject. It is one made no less complicated by the SoS, especially as she last week, before the redacted reports are to be released on Friday, December 14, and certainly before any adequate thought can be given to those testing results, began pushing Cuyahoga into a lose-lose decision about changing from a "known evil" for the 2-month-hence presidential primary election, into an unknown, very possibly equal evil (still the same closed loop of irresponsible, private vendors and insider hackable machines.)

Where was the move toward actual viable solutions even 6 months ago, from the previously "revealed"problems over the past 4 years?
And regarding the "matrix" of those years of previous reports' conclusions, that concept was suggested by the Voting Rights Institute, technology sub-work-group last April, where it was offered to be done for free, from this group who collectively has and is intimately familiar with all of those reports. As usual, our attention then was diverted, and stopped.

And for more information about the citizen involvement and oversight ....that never ensued, see
"Has Cuyahoga been set up for failure?"
and "SoS Brunner's consideration of citizens in the election reform process"

For now, just listen and maybe learn.

2. And here's Chris Nance's presentation about SoS Brunner's machine testing on 9/20. Listen to the "baby and bathwater" statement. What does it mean to you? I'm afraid that from Brunner's last week's sudden,"worry and concern " about DRE's in the 2-month hence March 4, presidential primary, despite years of previous evidence pointing to long-ago decertification, that the "baby" she wants us and the nation to hold are the insider-hackable, NON-"mitigatable," (despite many possible unwieldy and detailed dictums to come,) and inoperable machines - both DRE's and OptiScans - made by the same private, proprietary, irresponsible, though power- and money-wielding corporations, who along with politician friends, brought us to the current mess citizens' elections are in. And the "draining bathwater" is our memory of same, along with any sense of empowerment that these are and always have been OUR elections, and that even she is working for us.

Friday, December 7, 2007

PD-Brunner's heating up the frying pan...:NOT ANOTHER unthought-through, bad decision!

Frying Pan into the Fire

From her yet to be revealed testing that has defied inclusion of any citizen oversight, from testers selections on down - only BOE officials, politicians, testers (some with seeming conflicts of interest,) the vendors themselves, and even a former lobbyist for ES&S - now she wants Cuyahoga to jump into using another, from the non-luminary list of current vendors,
before anyone has a chance to think or stop the slippery slope again - as with HAVA 2002. This is NOT a decent solution for citizens and democracy. It's not even a good management one! (But alas, one she can virtually ultimatum, especially as Cuyahoga, since her seating of new board in early '07, remains under her "administrative oversight," projected through, "coincidentally," the end of the March primary.)

After all of her testing delays, until after the vendor-unfriendly California report came out, and despite years of research both in labs and in the field indicating that they should have been eliminated years ago, she now wants to suddenly eliminate Diebold DRE's and force a huge decision and change, all implemented
before the March primary? Just what all is going on here?

See the November post: Opinions: High level strategies about OUR elections?

And Tim Hagan, Cuyahoga County Commissioner's statement does not make the situation any better. In fact it just diverts attention from the priority real issue: even before we consider who's going to pay for such a new system, first, no one should be buying anything else until citizens decide what system is worthy of our fair elections, of our democracy, of our vote, and of our being able to SEE and properly MANAGE that our vote is handled fairly for US?
We've been down that road before, which brought us to today. It's not pretty. Neither is the list of current vendors to choose from. They all are private companies with secret software, which can easily aid undetectable, inside manipulation, and with terrible operational track records,
charging exorbitant amounts. None of them allow citizens to actually get proof with our own eyes, that who we're told are our "winners" really are. And may I remind Mr. Hagan and all - whether it's state, county or federal dollars - they're still OUR dollars; and despite continuous myths and diversions saying they're not - elections are still ours too.

The PD today,

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner wants new voting system for Cuyahoga

Friday, December 07, 2007
Joe Guillen
Plain Dealer Reporter
Ohio's elections chief has no confidence in Cuyahoga County's current voting system and has suggested dumping the more than $20 million touch-screen voting system before the March 4 presidential primary.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is pushing the Board of Elections for a quick decision because of the time needed to roll out a new system.

"We all understand there is not a lot of time to delay," said Sandy McNair, one of the four members on the elections board.

Brunner asked the members this week to consider an optical-scan system, which reads paper ballots filled out by voters, McNair said.

The board, however, is reluctant to dump its touch-screen voting system because it is gathering information about its reliability.

Brunner and the board became concerned about the touch-screen machines during the Nov. 6 election, when vote-counting software crashed twice, delaying results. The machines were made by Diebold Inc.

The board expects answers about the software crash next week. And, Brunner is expected to share a report about the reliability of voting equipment throughout the state.

County board member Rob Frost said, "I'd be hard-pressed to say that we can be expected to reach a consensus when we know we're going to have a whole lot more information next week."

Although the board is under Brunner's administrative oversight, the secretary of state said its members should ultimately decide the future of touch-screen voting in the county.

But she said, if the board decides to keep the current equipment for the primary, "I would have great concerns."

Even if the board decides to switch to an optical-scan system, no one is sure who would pay for it or the cost. Estimates range from $10 million to $20 million.

Cuyahoga County commissioners, who have urged a switch to optical-scan equipment since November 2006, wrote to Brunner last week, suggesting she get money from the state to pay for new machines.

"What I fear is that the people of Cuyahoga County will have to pay more money for the new system," said Commissioner Tim Hagan.

Brunner and the board will discuss the issue today during a conference call.

Adding to the county's time crunch is poll worker training and voter education for a new system.

The Summit County Board of Elections had four months to prepare for its first election using optical-scan equipment, which was in May 2006, director Bryan Williams said.

"It was difficult, I won't kid you," Williams said. "But it was doable."

Summit County paid $4.6 million for its optical-scan equipment, made by Election Systems & Software, of Omaha, Neb.

Summit County, with less than 500 voting precincts, uses one optical-scan machine per precinct during elections. Cuyahoga County has more than 1,400 precincts.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-4675

© 2007 The Plain Dealer
© 2007 All Rights Reserved.

Some "random" found...unfortunately

Checked in with Cuyahoga's ongoing recounts yesterday, and found that Strongville's board of education recount was still ongoing.
That's because it seems that while some absentee/op scan voters did not fill in the ovals on the ballots, but used checks and X's instead, it was found in the 3% sample (albeit with precinct 1A, of course) some of the scanners allowed those marks through, but counted them as blanks votes (!) the first time through, while others (or same scanners) sent them back out as unreadable, as was expected.
A full hand count was then ordered by the SoS office.
Of course, the CCBOE has now updated their paper ballot counting procedures to include, after opening ballots from their envelopes, inspecting and separating out all those with non-oval-filled marks. All those will have to be "remakes" to get an accurate count.
Can't trust those Diebold-Premier op scanners to help out with that separating job of what they can read accurately or not.
THEY are too unpredictably RANDOM in their methods of reading ballots.
A BIG problem throwing another Diebold wrench into fair and accurate counting? Of course.
And if my internal tally of the time-savings Diebold also offers into a fair accurate counting process is anywhere near correct, let's see, we should be by comparison with pre-Diebold, somewhere around -350.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Up to our *^&*%^s in Alligators

Here's a piece of film from the CCBOE board's Technology Work Group's wonderful 9/20/07 Public Forum on Technology. The work group is composed of board members Sandy McNair (D) and Rob Frost (R) and of course, much of the CCBOE staff.

I give my thanks right back to Sandy as he thanked me for the idea.
They acted on it! And it was wonderfully planned, allowing for real exchange - learning by all, straight speaking and serious listening to ideas. They even invited Diebold to attend and field some of our questions, but alas, the company decided they were too busy. (I got there a bit late, so no film of those announcements.)
However, the CCBOE even followed up on all questions posed by the public in the two unimpeded Q&A sessions of the afternoon, and still have responses of their followed up items posted on the home page of the CCBOE website.

I'll be posting more film of that 9/20 day in the next few days. It'll be worth watching!

Even more, they're planning another, similar forum for mid-January, probably on a Saturday, (as suggested on 9/20) hopefully in part, to discuss with the public SoS Brunner's testing reports/results! Even if you have to pack your bags and come on up or down - definitely plan to attend!

It'll be a great time to have a minimum of canned presentations, and a maximum of having the public's concerns and questions brought to light, and addressed! If you're thinking of attending, call the CCBOE and let them know you want to be kept informed. 216-443-3200. If you're an election reform advocate from other parts of the state or nation, and want to contact me ahead of time, just email,

This particular piece of film is from the second Q&A period of the afternoon, after Chris Nance, Assistant Secretary of State, gave his presentation about the then-almost starting testing process. (The SoS office was still involved in getting the $1.8 million of Ohio HAVA federally tax-paid funds appropriated from the Ohio Controlling Board.)

It is a short, and "precious" ( said in a very complimentary way) from Ray Rosenberg, a local computer expert and business consultant, a systems thinker who remains vitally, articulately, yet unassumingly active in all manners for re-awakening remnants of our democracy.

Good news! Sandy McNair states there'll be public forum to discuss SoS testing

I'll be posting more film of the first really excellent Technology Public Forum on 9/20 in the next few days. It'll be worth watching! It'll be worth attending the next one...

They're planning another! a similar forum for mid-January, probably on a Saturday, (as suggested on 9/20) hopefully in part, to actually discuss with the public SoS Brunner's testing reports/results! Even if you have to pack your bags and come on up or down - definitely plan to attend!

It'll be a great time to have a minimum of canned presentations, and a maximum of having the public's concerns and questions brought to light,
and addressed! If you're thinking of attending, call the CCBOE and let them know you want to be kept informed. 216-443-3200. If you're an election reform advocate from other parts of the state or nation, and want to contact me ahead of time, just email,

Hopefully there won't be any SoS Cuyahoga oversighting "ultimatums" - before that time....

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Will Cuyahoga Voters be the First to Be Led from the Frying Pan into the Fire?

Film Below.
I saw it coming on November 21 at the CCBOE election certification meeting. It was apparent that talks were already going on between the SoS office and the CCBOE, about what to do about a system that has tabulators crashing on election night; a vendor who has to be pushed every step towards baby-steps of year's-lacking normal consumer responsibility... and this was still before the 20+% of the printer tapes were unreadable from the Diebold touchscreen machines, as found on the first day of CCBOE recounts.

But, what now seems Cuyahoga's bind to get a system that actually works before the March 2008 primary, while it definitely seems imperative for the reasons you'll hear Director Jane Platten express in the film below, must not be a reason to rush into yet another millions of dollars purchase of another round of hackable electronic machines made by irresponsible, private vendors, with their secret software!

Notice when Platten states that Diebld-Premier wanted to take our machines onto their premises to "analyze." Can you believe it? Whatever they "find" about the tabulator, and now the printers, which Mr. Riggall, the Diebold spokesman said they'll do in the aftermath of both failures, I'm sure that their report will reflect that it's all the CCBOE's and poll workers' fault.

When board member Rob Frost stated his agreement at the meeting, it seemed set that the conversations were already well on their way - including backing them with the SoS testing - which to date has included NO citizen oversight or input from selection of testers on down.

That means we, the voters, and taxpayers who will be forced to pay for and suffer under any NEW round of secretly, supposedly "certified" electronic voting systems - as we have since HAVA 2002, which got us to today's mess - from any of the same current, privately-held, money-hungry vendors - all of whom have electronic machines that can be hacked, and none of whom have sterling reputations - have again been left completely out of the equation. That is despite many professional efforts of election integrity advocates from even her selected and touted Voting Rights Institute,
"Advisory Panel" - from that Technology subgroup - to be able to see in and weigh in. The SoS office just put us off, until the clock ran out.

Before the public's (redacted) SoS testing reports will appear next week, however, involvement
has included: her selected BOE officials; some apparent conflicts of interests among the testers; some politicians; a lobbyist; the vendors and more. Therefore no matter what the testing reports say, even if they align to my own beliefs, bottom line, Brunner's testing process has been voter-untrustworthy, let alone not worthy of voter "confidence." Many hard questions still need to be asked and actually answered by Brunner's office. Much more about that to come in another post.

We cannot let
Brunner's obvious delay in decertification of touchscreens, or her beginning Ohio's testing until after the California report came out - which happened in September after THEIR top to bottom review, and upon which CA SoS Bowen decertified and stringently conditionally recertified many electronic system from all current major vendors; and has already based one $15 millon lawsuit against ES&S, - now cause any rush for anyone - to jump from one citizen-void frying pan, into another citizen void-fire.

any decisions are made - even for the Cuyahoga's BOE and moreso, for Cuyahoga's taxpayers and voters - there needs to be public input, lots of it, from local citizens. and nationwide election integrity advocates, who are truly experts on the four years of reports which seem presently to make Brunner's testing expensively redundant, at the least; or at most, as some suggest, a possible attempt to whitewash the damning facts brought out in California's report.

What I've come to only suspect is currently talked about for Cuyahoga between the SoS and the board, is hundreds of precinct-based Hart InterCivic Optical Scanners, with a high speed version at the board, and some touchscreens at the polls for handicapped accessibility. But just check out what California had to say about the Hart InterCivic systems they tested. (Any further information would be greatly appreciated from advocates - or boards - already using Hart. (, or post a comment at the end of this post.)
Some of the things I've read, have included their alignment with Accenture, the Bermuda-based company that arose from Anderson Consulting, which hit the dust with Enron in 2001. Their CEO is a former Accenture partner. I've also read from Hart op scan counties, that this former graphics company, has almost forced their op scan users to have Hart print their ballots in order for them to be properly read by their equipment; and that they've charged exorbitant amounts for that printing - like 33 cents a page in quantities of over 100,000! While that's great for their ongoing revenue, it's also an ongoing taxpayer fleecing.
Then there's also the no small matter of still a private, proprietary company controlling OUR elections; of still hackability, especially insider; of such things as getting actual warranties and a contract that demands responsibility or else (which were conveniently left out of Mr. Blackwell's statewide contract. One wonders, for what in return.
- And without "permitted" citizen oversight and approval into a whole process, one always has to suspect for what in return...)

Today's Columbus Dispatch article on the Cuyahoga topic, follows the film.

The CCBOE official statement about the 11/6 election, mentioned in the film above can be downloaded here.

Here was my reply, which as things move quickly, in retrospect could have been much stronger about no current vendors/no electronic voting machines:

Here's today's Columbus Dispatch article that deals with the same essential question. Will Cuyahoga voters be the first in Ohio to be pushed from a frying pan into an almost assured fire?

Cuyahoga County leery of touch screens
Wednesday, December 5, 2007 3:11 AM
By Mark Niquette

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is pushing officials in the state's largest county to decide soon whether they will use their touch-screen voting machines in the March 4 primary, enhance them or replace them with paper ballots.
"The last thing they should do is to have the decision made by default because they don't act," Brunner said yesterday.
What happens in Cuyahoga County matters statewide because determining a winner of the presidential race in Ohio next year could hinge on Cuyahoga's results.
Moreover, 46 other counties, including Fairfield and Licking, use the same touch-screen system from the former Diebold Election Systems, although officials in many other large counties said they're satisfied with the voting machines.
Recent elections in Cuyahoga County have been marred by myriad problems, including an unexplained server crash that delayed results in last month's general election. A reported 20 percent of paper receipts from the machines were unreadable in two recounts this month.
That was from an election with relatively light voter turnout, and the fear is the system won't be able to handle the expected crush of voters for next year's presidential election.
Although Cuyahoga County commissioners say they've lost confidence in the touch screens, questions remain about who would pay for any new system and whether it could be installed in time for smooth elections next year.
Elections officials also are awaiting the results of a top-to-bottom review of all the voting systems used in the state that Brunner requested to address any concerns about their security and reliability.
A final report from that study with recommendations is expected Dec. 14.
Speaking at an election conference Monday in Chicago, Brunner said she thinks it's possible there may be a decision in Cuyahoga County before then. But board Chairman Jeff
Hastings said yesterday the board still must discuss the matter.
Brunner also said if Cuyahoga switches to an optical-scan system, she thinks the only way it would work next year is if the ballots are counted by high-speed scanners at a central location such as the board offices.
But that's already drawing opposition from advocates who say ballots should be scanned in the precincts, reducing errors by notifying voters when they have voted for too many or too few candidates and giving them a second chance.
Dan Tokaji, an Ohio State University associate law professor who was part of a lawsuit challenging punch-card voting because of its error rate, said he thinks legal action is likely if Cuyahoga County switches to a central-count system.
"I think it would be a bad choice," he said.
Brunner thinks the switch would be legal if there is enough voter education, and that problems with the machines in Cuyahoga County largely are attributable to the size of the county.
A spokesman for Diebold Election Systems, now Premier Election Solutions, couldn't be reached yesterday. But company officials previously have said the machines work well in large areas in other states.
Election officials reached yesterday at several other Ohio counties that use the same touch screens said they have not had major problems.
"I'm extremely happy," said Jay Morrow, director of the Licking County Board of Elections.
As the 2008 election nears, the secretary of state is pressing the county to resolve voting-machine issues.

Copyright © 2007, The Columbus Dispatch

Why truly random recounts are imperative: A trip down (horror) memory lane...

Why getting recounts right - with mandated first3% samples for (exposure & ) hand counts that are truly random (not pre-determinable)- is so important. Some examples.

First it should be understood thatwhatever that 3% sample of ballots and precincts is, is what the public cansee and recount - human eye and hand (even when there's alot of secret machinecode on either end which makes the process almost useless as a true "recount"of checking the voters' will. Without seeing the machine code telling thosemachines HOW to "count", we never can be sure what we're seeing is what thevoters' intended. However...)

Second, the rule is that if the 3% sample'shand count does not match up completely with the machine count (almost impossibleif one is just checking software-driven, coded memory card print-outs againstwhat all those same memory cards added up to in the tabulator) then a fullhand count of all precincts involved in the recount must ensue. The latteris a very time-consuming, labor intensive process....and can be a very revelatoryone, as one can see all the ballots and election data involved from the election.Also important.

At the very least, it's usually not something mostBOE's want to spend their Christmas or Thanksgiving doing...from say a November'08 presidential election.

In the requested and additionally paid-forOhio statewide county recounts from November, 2004, (the still highly questionedelection, for many well-documented but little reported reasons, of the 118,000margined Ohio Bush "win") many counties went out of their ways to make sure the 3% hand count matched.

Theirbiggest fear was a full countywide hand count - apparently both for time/laborreasons; and as documented evidence gathered over the past three years clearlyshows, in some cases for cover-up reasons too.

It was reported by the majority of 2004 recount observers throughout Ohio, and in the FreePressas one example of reports, that many counties preselected the recount precinctsin order to avoid having the 3% be random and to not match. That particular12/31 story, "Ohio's official non-recount ends amidst new evidence of fraud, theft..." went on to explain that the experts for an election challenge suit "have noted many of the precincts selected were mostly free of the irregularities they are seeking to investigate, while many contested precincts were left unrecounted." The story also reports that "InShelby County, election officials admitted that they discarded crucial tabulatorrecords, rendering a meaningful recount impossible."

Also,instead of pre-selection, some other reported methods occurred to avoid afull hand count. In Hocking County, Sherole Eaton, the now fired BOE deputydirector and Congressional whistleblower, sworean affidavit against a Triad company technician for allegedly offering acheat sheet and replacing the county’s central voting tabulator hard driveduring last year’s presidential recount, to make sure the sample hand count and tabulator matched. The same Triad actions were reported in at least one other county.

According to Truthout's 12.12/04 story, "Conyers Alarmed at Efforts to Obstruct Ohio Recount Effort, Calls Witness to Monday Hearing to Detail Such Efforts"
Yesterday,it came to the attention of the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staffthat efforts to audit poll records in Greene County, Ohio are being obstructedby County Election officials and/or Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.According to Joan Quinn and Eve Robertson, two election observers researchingvoting records, Greene County officials initially gave Quinn and Robertsonaccess to poll records, and then abruptly withdrew such access. Greene CountyDirector of Elections Carole Garman claimed that she had withdrawn accessto the voting records at the direction of Secretary Blackwell. Regardlessof who ordered the denial of this access, such an action appears to violateOhio law. Later, at the same office, election observers found the officeunlocked, and what appeared to be locked ballot boxes, unattended. Priorto the withdrawal of access to the books, observers had found discrepanciesin election records, and possible evidence of minority vote suppression.

Richard Hayes Phillips, PhD. one of the Ohio 2004 election researchers,
who's "seen it all," and was referred to in the above FreePress article, responded to this Directive 07-30 by saying:
Brilliant! So all that the election riggers have to do to avoid getting caught is toleave alone the first precinct in every political subdivision (e.g. wardor village) and rig everything else!
This reminds me of Clermont County2004, where the markings on the "absentee" and "provisional" ballots showedthat the Board of Elections had decided before November 2, 2004which precincts would be hand counted if a recount should prove necessary. And it just so happens that Kerry performed significantly better in theseprecincts than he did in the rest of the county.
To be fair, Secretary Brunner's Directive 2007-30 was issued on November 16, 2007, ten days after the election. Assuming that no one got wind of her proposal in advance, then elections would not have been rigged in accordance with it. One hopes that a different directive will be issued after the next election, with different instructions for "random" selection of precincts to be recounted, and that the terms of the directive will be a closely guarded secret until the moment it is issued.
See his provided excerpts on Clermont Recount, from RHP's upcoming book: "Witness to a Crime: A Citizens' Audit of an American Election."

In Cuyahoga the criminal charges upon which the two CCBOE workers were charged and convicted, (and who since on another inside deal have been put into a "Diversion Program" to get their records expunged,) involved pre-counting the pre-selected 3%, hand to make sure they would match.

To paraphrase Jason Parry, an astute, articulate Ohio election reform activist:
"Wedon't need to talk about what-ifs and rigging. We already know that somecounties will do anything they can to "help" that 3% hand count match up.This "random" recount Directive allows counties to know which precincts mightbe part of the 3%. This allows counties to have less-than-honest recounts,like we saw in 2004. It also allows good intentioned counties to skirt theintention of a recount."

And thanks also to Jason for his heads up about the new report just released from a year and a half long study by professors at OSU's Moritz College of Law, where they said Ohio had "the most significant problems" of five Midwestern states studied.

There on page 38 in Chapter 3 about Ohio's Election Ecosystem: A Poster Child for Reform,( the chapter's download page 18) it states regarding the above-stated electiondata, including the majority of NON-randomly selected recount ballots:
"Anotherfederal court suit, King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v.Blackwell,76 argues that problems in the 2004 election in Ohio had a disproportionateimpact on some voters, and specifically alleges that election resources wereallocated in a racially discriminatory matter. This suit, which also seeksto put supervision of Ohio elections in the hands of a federal judge, isbeing held in abeyance pending settlement efforts.
Inan alarming development in this case, in the summer of 2007 the Ohio Secretaryof State's office disclosed that almost two-thirds of Ohio's counties hadfailed to comply with the federal court's order to retain their ballots andother records from the 2004 presidential election while this litigation proceeded. Althoughthe plaintiffs in the suit have suggested that at least some of these recordsmay have been intentionally destroyed to conceal irregularities, even theinadvertent loss or destruction of these ballots and other materials, contraryto court order, is extremely serious. It also appears to be emblematicof the difficulties that some local jurisdictions have had in following establishedrules and procedures."

Itis the activist research into the above facts that brought this serious non-compliancewith retention laws, by then in the realm of possible concealment of trialevidence, to light; it was the lack of SoS acknowlegement, or any consequencesto such local BOE non-compliance and law breaking, which prompted the formationof the Ohio Election Justice Campaign (OEJC), now a nationwide group.
Theybegan with asking for a meeting with Brunner, which she denied for months;held a funeral procession in downtown Columbus mourning the death of democracyon the anniversary of 2004's November 2 election, and asked Brunner to comeout and speak with them, which no one did; held a "Throw the Turkeys Out"day around Thanksgiving; a later press conference; a community teach-in;and they've delivered lawsuits from other states about the recall of electronicvoting machines - all without substantive response from SoS Brunner.

The PD also covered the Moritz study today.

Bottomline, any activist called into huge concern over the multitude of "irregularities"in the 2004 election, one which still has honest people from all partiesconcerned about loss of a fair, open election process, more than partisanship- and suspecting that Ohio was not won by Bush, (and most probably Forida 2000 was not either) - absolutely knows that if a recount is to be done by 3% sample first, that sample must be a valid representation of the ballots cast - which means a truly RANDOM selection.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

SoS Recount Directive 07-30 - It's NOT a RANDOM sample - again!

For understanding, you'll need to access the Recount Directive and read it at
or at

I actually was not going to post this immediately; thought it might be resolved in a professional, easy way. But then I got a response today, which I include near the bottom, before my thirdly included, finally frustrated from trying to work with the SoS office on other matters too - my response back.

I. Sent:
December 2, 2007

The Office of the Secretary of State
• Kellye Pinkleton, Director, The Voting Rights Institute
• cc. David Farrell, Election Director
Adele Eisner, Member of the VRI and a Designated Cuyahoga Election Observer
Re: Recount Directive 07-30

Dear Kellye,

First I'm very pleased to see that the web site is working today. The public's having the mandated access to the Directives, Advisories and Memos is necessary to full participation and oversight of the citizens' election process.

As I just tried your website again today, this was the first time I read the recent Secretary of State's Directives, including 07-30, on recounts.

As I am a designated Observer for the 11/6/07 election, per ORC 3505.221, approved by the county Democratic party, thus observing Cuyahoga's recounts, I would appreciate your facilitating helping me get some quick and clarifying answers to questions I have about this directive. Cuyahoga still has at least four more recounts upcoming this week.
As an Observer, I need to understand the rules under which I am observing.

1. I am particularly flummoxed by # VI. - A. - 10 - a. through f. - regarding how to randomly select of recount samples.

I begin by saying that I appreciate that SoS Brunner is memorializing the fact that while a BOE may recount a 3% sample first, to determine if an entire handcount is necessary, (where the recount includes more than one precinct) that sample of course, by all valid sampling standards, must be randomly selected.

Her re-introducing the concept of random sampling in 07-30, in concept, re-institutes a years long procedure in Ohio recounts, which Mr. Blackwell in his tenure, allowed to be overlooked if BOE's should so choose, thus, also allowing those recounts where boards selectively chose or selectively patterned the precincts' ballots, poll books, etc. to be checked in recount, to become an essentially invalid and thus, an almost useless procedure.

In such a non-random sampling process, any previous manipulation of ballots/results in particular precincts, or recurring anomalies, could most assuredly be kept hidden from observers or unable to be citizen/candidate found or proved, until far too late to assure election justice.
This was a great cause for the still widely consisdered, unanswered questions, non-confidence, and even legal proceedings about the '04 presidential election, as you know.

But I also find that directive section #
VI,A,#10 - about how to randomly select - both very difficult to understand, and seemingly bulky and confusing to perform - as opposed to a simple truly random number generating procedure, such as: counties always using "the universe" of all precincts held within it, then after shaking and mixing those precinct numbers in a hat, just picking numbers out until the 3% is reached - or using some similar, random number generating process of all precincts involved in the recount.

Worse, the directive's process, if I read it correctly, seems to in some cases, re-introduce a definite pattern of precincts to be recounted/ inherent NON-randomness.

Most directly as example, consider a one-suburb race in Cuyahoga, lets say a race for a council seat, with 30 precincts. By this directive, by having to choose the lowest numbered and lettered precincts first, then subsequently on up the line, it seems to me, that in every recount in that political subdivision, it would be known before the election begins which precincts would be most likely to be recounted and not, should such a recount occur.

Further, it seems that in a county-wide recount, for example in Cuyahoga, where there are 20+ political subdivisions, (cities, townships, etc.) but where the one city of Cleveland holds by far the largest number of precincts, (and in which the largest number of voting problems have occurred in the past,) by starting with a forcing of the categorization of cities, townships, etc., it makes makes the city of Cleveland (including many wards and precincts,) equally available to be chosen, to say a Bedford Heights with only 5 precincts. And if I'm reading it right, for example, at the start should Cleveland be "randomly" chosen, and Bedford Heights is too, it would always be those cities' same precincts ( the lowest numbered and lettered) that would be recounted.

The SoS process seems to force an inequitable chance for a truly equitable, random selection of the couny's precincts. If I'm reading this right, it forces a not-truly random pattern: this is far from a plain equitable, random selection as I suggested with the hat method above.

Please help me get clarity on this procedure, and a possible rethinking in your office, if what is suggested is still not truly random selection.

2. Then in VI, - C. -2. -b. under "The Recount" (with DRE's )- pg. 8

• First, it directs the BOE's to check the public counters on the voting units, and the poll books and the summary reports at the bottom of the VVPATs to make sure they all match. But it does not say what to do if they do match or don't.

• Further, that also seems to imply that BOE's must bring all machines used for the chosen precincts to the site of the recount, and set them up, so that observers can observe that process too, if it is to have bearing on the process of the recount.
Is that true?

• What are candidates' rights if the poll book signature numbers do NOT match the total of VVPAT summaries for the selected precincts.
They VERY often do NOT match, for any number of reasons from poll worker confusion, to encoders not working so signing in voters, vote on paper ballots.

d. And last , the directive's number
VI, - C. -2. -b. -3 in that same section, it says:

What exactly are "all the ballots for the recount" - that are to be counted by hand?
Is it not presumed in this procedure, that once a precinct is selected, all the ballots for that precinct are to be hand counted?

Is that not how the workers found out in the first place, whether any VVPAT summary did not match the hand count for that tape?

I will appreciate answers to the above questions as soon as possible.

Also, to make you aware, as there has already been discussion about this directive among voting rights advocates in Ohio, within and outside of the VRI, I will be posting these questions and hopefully salient answers from your office to a wider group.

Thank you,

Adele Eisner

PS. I would have copied the sections in question in a more readable format had these documents been presented in digitized text form, or in a text accessble PDF format on your site. That would make such discussion easier. For now, if you double click "the pictures" I copied from your larger "picture page", in most applications, my small pictures will enlarge to original size for reading.
II. The SoS Response today:
(I omit the repetition of my email at the bottom of this response.)

Hi Adele. Thank you for the email.
I am reviewing your email and will be following up with the appropriate staff as soon as possible to provide you a response. In the meantime, it is more efficient to get answers when we have specific questions to pass on for response. To that end, I have extracted, I believe, the questions posed in your email and I have listed them below. Let me know if these are not accurate.
Thank you,
-What do you do if the counters, poll books and VVPAT summary reports do not match?

-Are BOE's supposed to bring all machines used for the chosen precincts to the site of the recount, and set them up?

-What are candidates' rights if the poll book signature numbers do NOT match the total of VVPAT summaries for the selected precincts.

-(VI, - C. -2. -b. -3) What exactly are "all the ballots for the recount" - that are to be counted by hand?
Is it not presumed in this procedure, that once a precinct is selected, all the ballots for that precinct are to be hand counted?

Kellye Pinkleton
Director, Voting Rights Institute
Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner
180 East Broad Street, 15th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
614.995.1619 Executive Assistant
614.752.4360 Fax

III. My response back today:

(To clarify what may seem to be my non-based assumptions of avoidance and not answering that which is wanted to be avoided, I note that this reflects an ongoing pattern, as only very partially indicated in the content of my email. Also, I spoke at some length with Brian Green, an attorney in the SoS office, yesterday, as he called and indicated he would be sending me the documents I had requested in September (noted in a previous post here.) We had a very pleasant conversation, and I re-iterated to him the public's concerns about the invalidity of the "random" process presented in the directive, and told him I had already written those down and sent them to Kellye. He indicated his understanding of my message, and he would get a copy for consideration.)

In a message dated 12/4/07 12:46:31, writes:

(I here omit her message seen above)

Kellye -
Those though are some (sic), they, as I think is obvious, are actually the minor points to my previous email.

The main point was in #1 of my email. About the fact that the way the directive demands HOW a "random" sample is derived - makes it NOT RANDOM at all, thus able to predict BEFORE an election which precincts
are most likely to be exposed to the public, should a recount occur. It thus makes it easy to "game" /manipulate over 80% of the ballots in an election, knowing no one from the public will ever have a legal chance to see what happened until well after candidates are seated and going full force...

This is as invalid a sample, or actually worse, as Mr. Blackwell's saying your 3% sample does not have to be random. Some honest, diligent BOE's would have gone to a regular picking precincts out of a hat system.
This 07-30 directive demands that they do something you're calling random, but allows anyone so inclined to do election manipulation, to do it in the majority of precincts with the highest number/letter designations and know they can get away with it.

Or as one person explained :
"...there is a difference between statistical confidence levels and telling people ahead of elections that you can make certain that 80% of the precinct can never be included in a recount, oh and here's a list of which precincts those are.
This isn't an exaggerated problem, and even if we assume there are no dishonest people, it allows counties to do a good job with all "A" precincts and guarantee there will never be a full hand count.
Also, don't worry about errors or bad poll workers in the "B"-"G" precinct because our tabulation data is the final word on those.
I agree a 3% of precincts recount is not meaningful from a
statistics point of view because you are not random sampling
3% of a bucket of ballots. But this gives a green light for
fraud that has a very low likelyhood of ever being caught."
Further it is very confusing to understand thus to perform, and bulky to boot.

AND in my PS. is the concern that when your office puts directives and advisories on the web site, instead of putting up a digitized form, they scan them, and in non-text accessible manners/but in whole page "pictures" - so that it's impossible to cut and paste the words the public might want to discuss and reference. Why not use an image file for the letterhead, and signature, in directives, advisories, and memos then make the text digitized-accessible, as other websites do - to make it easier on the public, than having to re-type everything?

So to put it in six simple questions:
1. Who came up with this method you're calling random selection?

2. Exactly why this, and not just picking precinct (on the whole, the most equal voting district breakdowns) numbers from a bowl or hat ?

3. Exactly why are you avoiding addressing the most obvious part of my email, when at least 6 people contacted me directly, and others indirectly, and thanked me for it's clarity of presenting the problems with your "random" : trying to avoid another post-election democracy debacle - of being able to pattern or manipulate elections and results ahead of time, without voters finding out?

4. When will a new recount directive be issued that reinstates a simple, clear,
validly random method of random selection of the 3% random sample for a recount - those things that are exposed to the public before election certification - such as a hat or similar method?

5. What exactly is going on there - as your reply, for now, gives me great NON-confidence, especially now also in the testing process, into which the public, - including even the VRI-tech group, (despite our trying to work with your office, and to repeatedly be professional in getting the peer
oversight inclusion, ( to even election officials) as was repeatedly inferred in your office's emails, conference calls, talks, as "planned and/or coming"- but your office never delivered - thus into which the public ( who will have to pay for any changes the legislature recommends from your recommendations, and worse who may have to suffer through a whole new round of undemocratic electronic machines and the "results" they yield,) has had no oversight or input? (My inclusion on blog - I know how garbled this one is, but you can get the drift. I was rushed/ have many more things to do - like work! - than go around in these circles with the SoS office.)

6. (And indirectly)
Why not use an image file for the letterhead, and signature, in directives, advisories, and memos then make the text digitized-accessible, as other websites do - to make it easier on the public, than having to re-type everything?

Here is my #1 again:
1. I am particularly flummoxed by # VI. - A. - 10 - a. through f. - regarding how to randomly select of recount samples.
....(and it repeats from the first section, above.)

Maybe someone else wants to try contacting the SoS, to actually get through?

One should NOT have to be an election official working "at the pleasure of the SoS," or on some other "inner circle" to be able to actually present a problem of great importance to fair elections, nor create a huge "hissy fit" or spend months of frustrating time-sinks, to get it considered and resolved for the good of the public.