Premier Exacts Revenge on Humboldt County

The following article was first published at 5 and subsequently distributed to the California Election Protection Network and published as a featured guest post at at:  on 3.25.09. The original article is reprinted here by permission with appreciation to Parke Bostrom, and to Brad Friedman of 

Diebold Nukes Humboldt!

by Parke Bostrom

At the California Secretary of State's public hearing regarding the possible decertification of GEMS 1.18.19 related to the Deck Zero covert deletion of 197 ballots in the November election, the audit log's magical "clear" button, and the GEMS's audit logs failing to show when ballots were manually deleted by the operator, Diebold/Premier representatives tried to shift blame for the 197 deleted ballots onto Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich.

Crnich responded, "If you're saying that your system needs to be checked every damn time we turn it on, I agree with you."
Crnich's use of an expletive seems to have pushed Diebold/Premier's legal counsel over the edge, causing them to reach for and firmly press the "nuke" button.

Several days after returning to Humboldt, Crnich received two letters from Premier. Both letters arrived in a single envelope, but unlike Premier Khrushchev's two letters to President Kennedy, Crnich did not get to choose which letter to respond to.

'Apparently, section 25 allows Diebold/Premier

to terminate Humboldt County's annual license

. . . on 90 days' notice'

The first letter, dated March 17th, was regarding section 25 of the DIMS license agreement. The license agreement was signed on April 27th, 1999. Apparently section 25 allows Diebold/Premier to terminate Humboldt County's annual license to use the DIMS voter registration system on 90 days notice. Additionally the letter went on to revoke all of Humboldt County's licenses to use any Diebold/Premier election systems and software following the May 19th statewide special election. Diebold/Premier also required that many pieces of equipment would have to be returned.  (Click READ MORE to continue)

Related Coverage

3.27.09: California News Service radio story: PLAY AUDIO (1 min.)



7.16.08: Election Defense Radio interview with Humboldt Election Transparency Project and Registrar Carolyn Crnich

Humboldt Election Transparency Project 


The second letter, dated March 18th, asked for confirmation that Registrar Crnich had declined Diebold/Premier's offer of a free hardware and software upgrade to GEMS version 1.18.24. Such an upgrade would also require that Humboldt County's fleet of eighty precinct-based AccuVote optical scan machines receive a hardware retrofit.

Previously, Premier had offered to perform the upgrade at a cost of $324 per AccuVote (a total cost of $26,000), but they generously offered to throw in a free upgrade of the software part of GEMS. A week after Crnich rejected that deal, Premier offered a complete free upgrade of hardware and software, that Crnich also rejected. Instead of retrofitting Humboldt's current AccuVotes, Premier offered to provide refurbished retrofitted machines direct from Texas. According to Crnich, Santa Barbara and San Louis Obispo counties have accepted a free hardware and software upgrade to GEMS 1.18.24, including retrofitted and refurbished AccuVote optical scanners.

Apparently, after "every damn time", all offers were off the table and the nukes were launched.
I asked Crnich if Premier was taking back all the AccuVotes, too, or if Premier were merely taking all the "brains" and leaving us with "just the useless pieces". After pausing for a second, she replied, "they are leaving us with the rest of the useless pieces." I asked her if she really wanted me to quote her saying that. Crnich's reply: "What else can they do to me at this point?"

Back in December or January, when Crnich was discussing the transition to Hart InterCivic equipment, she did say that she was planning on continuing to use Premier's DIMS voter registration system. But now she has to scramble to switch to another system:

May 19th is the special election. After that, Crnich will have to take delivery of the replacement Hart equipment, test it, be trained on it, train voters and poll workers to use it, conduct a test election on it, and then start preparing for the November statewide election. At the same time, she will have to return Premier's equipment. And now, additionally, she will have to transition Humboldt's entire voter registration database to a new system. I think the voter registration system transition needs to be done within 90 days, meaning by June 17th-ish. In other words, the entire voter registration transfer will need to be done during the preparation for and post-election canvassing of the May 19th special election.

I asked Crnich for copies of the two letters so I could post them here. Absurdly, Crnich claimed that after having read both of the letters to members of the public at a public meeting, the letters are still attorney-client privileged because she had sent copies of the letters to county council. These are letters from Premier to Crnich terminating contracts between Premier and Humboldt County. (If there are any lawyers out there who think this claim is not absurd, and that the letters are indeed privileged, please let me know.)

And here is some free advice to any Premier public-relations types who may be reading this post and thinking about trying to do some damage control. Call up your corporate lawyers and get them to apologize to Crnich for terminating all the contracts in the middle of an election cycle. Then have them politely request that Crnich propose a schedule for discontinuing the use of DIMS at her convenience. It may take a little longer than 90 days, but I am pretty sure that at this point in time she is very eager to stop using any products that carry the Diebold/Premier name.


About Parke Bostrom:

Parke Bostrom became a poll worker in 2004 due to concerns with paperless voting machines (which are not used in Humboldt County). He became involved as a volunteer with the local Voter Confidence Committee, the Humboldt Election Advisory Committee, and Humboldt County Election Transparency Project over the course of 2008. Parke has also served as an election night election observer, most recently on behalf of the Humboldt County Republican Party. His professional background is in software and programming.

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