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Thursday, April 10, 2008

What's Really The Problem Here? (aka "The 'new' GEMS problem" or "The Butler County, OH 'lost votes' in March primary problem"

A topic of high conversation among activists the past few days has been called "the (Diebold) GEMS database problem;" and " the missing (but found) votes in Butler County, OH problem."
The issue at hand was first widely reported by Gregory Korte in the Cincinnati Enquirer on April 8, 2008 and again on 4/9
: http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080409/NEWS01/804090352;
and was noted by election integrity advocates via John Gideon's VotersUnite! site with the Daily Voting News: http://www.votersunite.org/news.asp

Both began:

A recently discovered computer glitch caused at least 105 votes in West Chester to go missing after the March 4 primary election, Butler County election officials said. Two computer cards containing votes from touch-screen voting machines were not uploaded on election night – even though the computer reported that all cards had been read. Those votes have since been counted and were included in final, official results approved last week.

The 4/9 Enquirer piece stated:

"Quite frankly, if it's off by five votes or 105 votes, I want to know what's causing it. Especially if it's a close election," McGary said, "If we cannot produce accurate and reliable numbers, then it throws the entire process in question, and that's not something we want to have happen."

Butler County has reported the error to the Ohio Secretary of State's office and to Premier. The Secretary of State's office is watching the investigation, said spokesman Jeff Ortega. It's unknown how widespread the problem could be.

The software error evidently happened when election computers tried to read two electronic voting cards simultaneously. That resulted in a database "sharing violation."

A Premier spokesman called the glitch "an anomaly we have not seen before."

"The log reflects sharing violation. We're puzzled by that and trying to determine how that could occur," said the spokesman, Chris Riggall.


A much bigger problem than even the Diebold tabulator (called GEMS) "glitch" itself, is that this problem is very far from new. But every time it occurs, possibly invalidating vote results, it still comes by surprise to local BOEs; and that it seems that everyone involved - from Diebold/Premier to the highest election officials, at least in Ohio, seem to claim in various ways they didn't know about it (at least to give fair warning) before.

"The problem" was noted, especially in oral review, of the May, 2006 Cuyahoga study, the ESI report, published in 8/06.

It was found first-hand in the Cuyahoga unofficial and official counts from the November 6, '07 election, when it was called "an information collision" problem, (now "a database sharing violation") which caused not only crashes, but the similar precinct data loss.
See 11/18/07 post: http://citizensboe.blogspot.com/2007/11/say-it-isnt-so-its-so-diebold-crashes.html
from which I quote:

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.

Then in '07, came the Diebold analysis of "the problem," and the Cuy. board's questioning about it in their 12/17/07 meeting which portion you'll see in the film below.

As you'll see in the film,"the problem" had then been previously reported by San Diego, and potentially been reported by Montgomery (Dayton) and Lucas (Toledo) counties.

And there were further tests, including of course, the $1.8M Ohio EVEREST study reported in 12/07.

The Journal News also reported "the new problem" on 4/9/08, http://www.journal-news.com/n/content/oh/story/news/local/2008/04/08/hjn040908boe.html

This story clarified that it may not have been an activist who first brought this matter to the attention of the Butler BOE, as was first reported by another activist, ( and thus, was subtitled in the film below, before time to make the change. ) It was from this Journal News story that I quote the following:

Patrick Gallaway, spokesman for Brunner's office, said this underlines the office's concerns with voting machines.

"Ultimately what the secretary of state would opt to do would be have the entire state convert to optical scan paper ballots," he said, but there's not enough time or money to do that before the November election.

But that viewpoint also bypasses the fact that optical scan machines also expose counties to having to keep a manual count of what they have and have not completed. (The CCBOE needed to scan the March 4, '08 ballots cast at the polls twice in their official count - on the ES&S M650 central count optical scanners, and the ES&S Unity tabulating software - as they themselves lost track the first time through.)

And these optical scanners are ALSO OPAQUE ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS, WITH SECRET SOFTWARE, controlling something we call "counting"; and with the same quantity of operational and security problems, and with equal insider election results manipulatability as are any DRE's, with their vendor's tabulating software.

I'm just wondering, therefore... if by 11/07, I, a grandma, lone volunteer observer knew about "the Diebold problem," and Cuyahoga knew about "the problem," and the SoS was clearly told about "the problem," and obviously Diebold knew about "the problem," how is it that Butler County was left in the dark in March '08, reliant only on Diebold product advisories telling them only that they needed to limit their memory card uploads to no more than 20 at one time?

And how is it that by April '08 the people who are charged with being in charge, and who are needed to actually help the voters and the BOE's problems statewide/nationwide.... seem to have "forgotten"? ...Again?