Sunday, November 26, 2006

Two Days Until Results Certification and "The Mystery"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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