Riverside County, CA Election Monitoring by SAVE R VOTE

Save R Vote Contact Info: Tom Courbat Executive director E-mail: tom68-69korea[at]thecourbats[dot].com

This project demonstrates the power of organized citizen action in the movement for election integrity. In Riverside County near San Diego, CA, a group of more than 60 citizens involved in the Temecula Valley DFA took steps to observe, record, and report on every aspect of their county's election system and functioning during the June 6, 2006 primary.

The process revealed many alarming problems, all of which are documented in their 13-page report linked below.

Since then, SAVE R VOTE has continued to expand and refine their monitoring procedures, and most recently fielded over 100 volunteers on Super Tuesday 2008 monitoring 50 precincts in sprawling Riverside County, CA.

SAVE R VOTE has compiled and updated their thorough training manual, which you can download from this link: http://electiondefensealliance.org/files/SaveRVote_Election_Monitoring_G...

One of the group's leaders, EDA Election Monitoring Co-coordinator Tom Courbat, spoke at DemFest in San Diego, 2006 (see EDA TV clip linked below).

Tom has some jaw-dropping revelations about the ways Riverside election officials reinterpret the election code at their convenience; for example, making an "administrative decision" to disregard the state law requiring posting of precinct totals, and inventing another administrative fiat resulting in exposure of individual voters' ballot choices.

Unfortunately, such violations breaching election security are common practice, not rare exceptions, and will only continue unless citizens call election administrators to public account.

Please read about this powerful citizen effort and then take a stand for fair elections by systematically monitoring the election procedures in your county. This is a big job-- so form a group! Joining the EDA Election Monitoring Working Group is a good way to learn from others with experience.



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EDA Serves Public Records Lawsuit on Riverside County, CA

County Responses to Election Records Requests  "Not Responsive, Evasive, and Unusable"


Download EDA Complaint (PDF)

After repeated attempts to obtain election records through public records procedures were denied and evaded by the Riverside County elections department, Election Defense Alliance has filed a lawsuit in Riverside County, CA, to compel the county's registrar of voters and election department to produce all public records used to compile the officially reported voting results for the November 2008 general election.Complaint-Cover

The legal complaint, [Case No. R1C-541239] filed in Riverside County Superior Court November 13 and served on the Riverside Elections Department on December 12, is based on the California Public Records Act (CPRA) and related statutes in the California Government Code.

EDA maintains that all election records are -- or should be -- public documents, to be readily available for public inspection in a timely manner and in complete, usable form; otherwise the public right to verify election outcomes is effectively denied.

EDA is seeking these records to determine (a) whether the officially reported election results were accurate and correct, and (b) whether the elections were conducted in full compliance with the California Elections Code and state and federal requirements for the certification and use of computerized voting systems.

These laws and requirements include provisions guaranteeing the public
access to observe election processes and verify election results.

The lawsuit is the initial phase of the EDA Public Records Election Project (PREP).

Members of the
EDA PREP team collectively have experience monitoring elections and filing records requests in Riverside, Santa Cruz, and Monterey counties in California, and Pima and Maricopa counties in Arizona.

The EDA-PREP team worked 8 months studying relevant public records law, preparing the records requests, analyzing responses and records received from Riverside County, and following through with subsequent requests to obtain records that the Riverside elections department either initially refused to provide, or failed to provide in usable form.

Between April and October, 2009, EDA sent four separate CPRA request letters specifying the records sought in further response to Riverside County replies. Each of the request letters are attached to this article as downloadable PDF documents.


Lawsuit Claims and Relief Sought

EDA is seeking a judicial determination as to the legal validity of any of the exemptions the Riverside Elections Department has claimed, and whether its responses to EDA's information requests have been fully compliant with the requirements of the California Public Records Act.

EDA Complaint is Served on Riverside County Elections Department


Riverside election integrity activist Paul Jacobs accompanied Tom Courbat
to the Riverside County Elections Department on Dec. 12, 2009
to serve the summons forthe EDA lawsuit, Case No. RIC-541239.



As declaratory relief, EDA is seeking a court ruling that the Riverside defendants violated the California Public Records Act by:
 __ failing to demonstrate that requested records are exempt;
 __ requiring the payment of fees not  permitted by law;  
_ failing in their mandatory duties to respond to public information requests;
 __ abusing their official discretion, by failing to respond properly to public information requests;
 __ failing to provide requested records in useful form; and by 
 __ denying requests for public records without justification.

EDA is seeking a writ of mandamus compelling the Riverside defendants to:

 __ comply with each  provision of the CPRA
 __ deliver all records responsive to the EDA CPRA requests 
 __ comply with all such election-related records requests by citizens in the future
 __ pay EDA reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of the suit pursuant to Government Code Section  6259, the Code
     of Civil Procedure section 1021.5, and other relevant statutes; and
 __ such other and further relief as the court deems just and proper.
 
Below are a listing and description of election records EDA requested in the initial CPRA letter of April 24, 2009, and descriptions of the Riverside elections department response to each request.


1. Ballot reconciliation spreadsheet in unlocked electronic form

The requested "ballot reconciliation worksheet" is a compilation of the ballot statements from each precinct. These precinct ballot statements are one-page summaries signed by the precinct pollworkers detailing the number of ballots cast in the precinct, the number of voters who signed in to the poll book, and the total numbers of ballots received, voted, unvoted, and spoiled.

Without accounting for
all of these factors in the ballot reconcilation worksheet, it is not possible for election administrators -- or the general public -- to verify election results as true and correct.

In response to a previous request by Save R Vote for the ballot reconciliation statement, Riverside County Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore had retroactively issued a policy stating that no election-related documents would be released in "alterable" format, but only in static print form.

In its CPRA request, EDA cited sections of the California Government Code that require state agencies to provide upon public request, files in the same electronic format that the agencies have used to prepare public reports.

Regarding Riverside's failure to provide the ballot reconcilation statement in its original form as an unlocked Excel spreadsheet, the EDA complaint states:

"Defendants/Respondents refused to produce the spreadsheet as used claiming that EDA was not permitted to see the manner in which the calculations were made within the spreadsheet. Instead, they produced a stripped-down spreadsheet, an image of the spreadsheet as a .pdf file, and a 63-page comma delimited file which is one long string of alphanumeric characters. While comma delimited files can be interpreted by using an appropriate spreadsheet, the file itself is non-responsive. The spreadsheet as used by  Defendants/Respondents is a public record but was not produced."

Riverside County RoV Barbara Dunmore

2. Documents reconciling roster signatures with ballot statement

 Item 2 sought records of ballot reconciliation required by Elections Code section 15302, subdivision (b).

3. Documents resolving any discrepancy between ballots received and ballots cast

Item 3 sought records of the reconciliation described in Elections Code section 15302, subdivision (c).

Items 2 and 3 were related requests for all documents which would demonstrate how the Riverside Elections Department complied with very specific canvassing procedures required by the Election Code.

Item 2 sought records demonstrating how the elections department had reconciled  "the number of [voter] signatures on the [precinct] roster with the number of ballots recorded on the Ballot Statement."

Item 3 sought all records demonstrating how any discrepancy encountered in fulfillment of Item 2 had been resolved thorugh comparison of the number of ballots received from each polling place with the number of ballots cast, as indicated on the ballot statement. 

The Riverside elections department did not produce the records requested pursuant to EC subdivision (b) or (c). Instead, they produced records related to subdivision (d) which EDA did not request, and in addition referred EDA to the defective records produced in response to Item 1.  The records produced are not responsive, are evasive and unusable.

The defendants denied the request to provide copies of precinct voter rosters, citing "voter privacy." The claim of exemption is not cited to the CPRA and is not recognized by law.

In response to a subsequent, repeated request from EDA for the materials described in Items 2 and 3, the Riverside election department submitted what they claimed was, but was not, the same defective spreadsheet they had previously provided in response to Item 1, but with an added header row missing from the previous spreadsheet.
The results Riverside claim can be derived from the information in either the first or second spreadsheets, cannot in fact be derived. In any event, the spreadsheet that was requested, that is a public document, was not produced. The records that Riverside elections department provided in response to Items 2 and 3 are not responsive, are evasive and unusable.

4. Voting system audit and event logs, logic and accuracy (L&A) test results, and DRE results cartridges upload reports.
 

In response to this request for logs from the November 2008 election, the Riverside election department referred EDA to a previous response to an unrelated CPRA request filed by Save R Vote --which was nonresponsive to EDA's request -- and otherwise denied the request by claiming that the records were no longer available "due to reconfiguration of the Sequoia Voting System for the May 19th Statewide Special Election. . . . "

Although EDA specifically requested voting system log files in the same electronic format used by the county to generate election reports, the defendants provided these files as static paper printouts, making it difficult or impossible to use them for verifying those election processes and results. 

The records they did provide fell far short of the request in quantity and coverage.  EDA sought records demonstrating that Riverside had performed the mandatory logic and accuracy (L&A) tests on voting system components for the November 2008 general election, which included 791 Sequoia Edge II DRE machines used for early voting, as well as the 8 Sequoia Optech 400-C central ballot scanners, and the central tabulating computer.

The records EDA received contained L&A test results for only 143 of the 791 DREs, meaning that 648 DREs either were never tested, or that Riverside failed to provide any documentation of such tests for 82% of the voting machines used in the presidential election.

Of the 369 pages of printed documents that Riverside County provided in response to Item 4 in the EDA CPRA request, Tom Courbat noted that "the county made no effort to clearly identify what was being sent, and in a number of instances the documents were undated and/or unsigned."  Computer audit and event logs improperly labeled as to machine or time of origin, are useless.

In a subsequent June 15 CPRA letter following through on the Item 4 request, EDA provided very exacting instructions for producing log directories that would have provided the relevant information. Defendants ignored these instructions and instead delivered materials that are not responsive, are evasive and unusable.

5. Election results databases

Riverside at first declined to produce these database files, claiming that the SQL database and the
voting records it contains, are proprietary information belonging to the Riverside County E-voting contractor, Sequoia Voting Systems, and therefore exempt from public disclosure.
(Electronic voting vendors have consistently maintained that election databases and the records of the public vote they contain, are "proprietary information" protected as commercial trade secrets).

Noting that there is no such exception recognized in the California Public Records Act pertaining to
election records, EDA pressed its request, and in response, Riverside eventually produced "redacted" copies of the database files, supposedly with all proprietary information removed by Sequoia.

The redaction process -- for which EDA was billed $105 -- destroyed the database structure, rendering the files an unusable chaos of scattered data with which it is virtually impossible to reconstruct the actual record of the vote.

However, in initial examination of redacted database files, EDA investigator Jim March discovered remnants of SQL code that appeared to be "active" -- that is, capable of executing commands to perform operations on the voting data stored in the database.

When EDA announced this discovery, Sequoia immediately issued a press release asserting that the code remnants mixed in with the voting data were merely fragments of its proprietary database schema, imperfectly redacted.

However, numerous programmers who looked at the database files EDA provided for
open public inspection, agreed that there did appear to be executable code in them. If so, this would be highly illegal under federal and state law and would immediately disqualify the Sequoia systems for use in elections.

EDA is continuing is examination of the Sequoia code found mixed in with the Riverside election database records.

6. Documents used to generate or validate the Statement of Vote

In response to EDA's request for "documents used to generate or validate the data reported on the Statement of Vote," Riverside sent numbers, not the documents -- and the numbers were inconsistent with previous responses, and did not answer or enable answering questions about how the official election reports were derived from the vote data.
Reconciliation-errors
Working from the Riverside election department's own figures  (a massive spreadsheet titled "Audit Spreadsheet for Doug" [Kinzle, deputy registrar]) the EDA PREP team found thousands of vote count discrepancies between what the worksheet showed and what the county officially reported.

The  screenshot to the right, showing a vote count discrepancy of 457, is an example of errors uncovered by EDA analysis of the election audit spreadsheet received from the Riverside election department.

The larger point of EDA discovery, however, was that working from the documents the Riverside
elections department provided in response to CPRA requests, it is impossible for the elections
department -- or any member of the public -- to actually determine what the correct vote count is.

In the words of the EDA complaint, "the official account of how the vote was tallied cannot by reconciled with the official published results of the elections in question."

Why Riverside County?

EDA chose to initiate its first legal enforcement action in Riverside County, where a history of flagrant violations has been carefully documented in every election since June 2006 by the local election integrity group, Save R Vote, an affilate of EDA organized and led by EDA Election Monitoring Coordinator Tom Courbat.
 
Following are examples of the kinds of violations Save R Vote has observed in Riverside elections,that make it impossible to validate election results.
 
• Refusal to post election results or ballot counts at the precincts per EC §19370 and EC §19384, making confirmation of centrally-reported vote counts impossible
 
• Failure to reconcile the beginning count of ballots with ending count, taking into consideration voted, spoiled, canceled and unvoted ballots per EC §14405

• Failure to reconcile the number of voter signatures in the precinct rosters with the numberof ballots recorded on the Ballot Statement at each precinct per EC §15302(b)
 
• Refusal to allow citizens to view the central vote tabulating monitor at a legible distance as required by Condition 24 of the Secretary of State’s Recertification Conditions

• Failure to retain electronic voting results cartridges for 22 months in federal elections
 (This is a violation not only of federal election law, but also of the Secretary of State’s Re-Certification Conditions number 27).
 
• Refusal to release the ballot reconciliation worksheet in original Excel electronic format as required by GC
 653.9(a)(2). 

(Refusal to release the document in the requested format severely impairs efforts to audit election
results).
 
These failures, refusals, and violations in Riverside County constitute a chronic pattern of the county's election officials picking and choosing which election laws and regulations to obey and which to ignore.
 
Similar patterns of selective noncompliance and obstruction have been documented in other California counties, with especially serious violations repeatedly committed in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara counties.
 

Why Aren't Election Laws Being Enforced?

 
The office of the California Secretary of State has stated that it does not have sufficient enforcement authority under state law to enforce compliance with election laws on the part of the county election department administrators.
 
It is difficult to reconcile this claim of powerlessness, with the direct, unambiguous statute language describing secretary of state enforcement authority.
 
However, it is true that there is very little case law in California concerning adherence to the Election Code and related statutes on the part of county election administrators.
 
The practical effect of this vacuum in election law enforcement, is that citizens are left with no recourse but to sue in county superior courts for writs of mandamus requiring their local election officials to comply with state election laws.
 
This is the approach that EDA has determined must be taken. If EDA prevails in this legal contest with the Riverside County registrar of voters, as we expect to, one of the counties most averse to election transparency will be under court order to provide full public access to observe election processes and full disclosure of election records,including the unredacted records of the vote. 
 
When similar legal actions to access election records are filed in multiple counties in California, or in any other state, eventually one or more such cases will be appealed by election administrator defendants or their E-voting contractors.

When those cases are decided in vindication of the public's right to access public election records -- as we expect they will be -- case law will be established, applying not only to the county in question, but as state law applying to every electoral jurisdiction in that state.
 
This is how EDA forsees the election integrity movement advancing, from one legal victory to the next, one county at a time, until the record of legal precedence established in case law provides a consistent basis of enforcement that will support and defend the public's right to know how our votes our counted.
_______________________________________________________
 


_______________________________________________________

  Help Extend the Reach of Tactical Election Integrity Law
by Contributing to the EDA Public Record Elections Project (PREP)
 

Please click on this link to go to the Donations page where you can find and fill in the form pictured below.

PREP donation



 





















 
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EDA-CPRA-Petition-for- Writ-RiversideCounty.pdf653.26 KB
EDA-CPRA_Request1_042409.pdf178.72 KB
EDA-CPRA-Request2-061909.pdf156.47 KB
EDA_CPRA_Request3_Riverside-090109.pdf84.25 KB
EDA-CPRA-Request4-Riverside-101909.pdf115.32 KB
Card_Audit_For_Doug.pdf227.83 KB
Riverside-CPRA1-Response.pdf72.49 KB

Election Monitoring Report, Riverside County CA, May 19 2009

The following photos were taken on the night of the May 19, 2009 special election in Riverside County by Tom Courbat, as he made his rounds observing election procedures and conditions. 

This photo guide to election monitoring explains the purpose of each election document or item pictured, commenting on recent improvements in election procedure, contrasted to the lax practices of the past, and pointing out where problems still persist.

Tom and the SAVE R VOTE group he founded have been thoroughly monitoring Riverside County elections for the past four years. Their repeated reports documenting serious breaks in the Riverside election system finally move the county Board of Supervisors to commission a countywide elections audit. Tom served as citizen advisor to the accounting firm hired to carry out the $300,000 review, which resulted in the Riverside County Elections Department finally implementing many of the procedural safeguards SAVE R VOTE had been advocating for years.

In the May 19th election, Tom was pleased to find Riverside's election procedures vastly improved as a result of the new policies adopted following the recommendations of the election auditing consultant and SAVE R VOTE.

Tom notes: "Many documents now contain the date and type of election on every page for the first time, as recommended by SAVE R VOTE (SRV).  Previously, when pages were removed from a document for copying or scanning, there was no way to categorically state the page was from a specific election on a specific date."
Ballot statement
Ballot Statement Instruction Sheet and Ballot Statement (left and right respectively).

Vastly improved from prior versions. The Ballot Statement is an official form required to be accurately completed by election workers following the close of polls and prior to sending all voting materials to collection centers. This form accounts for all regular and provisional paper ballots – blanks received, ballots spoiled, voted ballots, and unused ballots. It also accounts for all regular and provisional electronic ballots cast. SAVE R VOTE (SRV) had recommended numbering each line and constructing instructions accordingly. This was accomplished for the first time in the May 2009 Election.

HOWEVER, this form omits critical information, previously recorded in prior elections until a procedural change starting with the November 2008 election. The  information that should be recorded on this form, but that is now missing, would compare information from the Voter Roster about how each voter cast their ballot, with the numbers of each type of ballot cast: electronic, electronic provisional, paper, or paper provisional. Without this comparison, there is no way to confirm that the voters who signed the roster as having cast a provisional electronic ballot, for example, actually did cast an electronic provisional ballot.  The signature counts from the Voter Roster are simply “grossed up” to the total number of ballots cast, with no reference to the numbers of each type of ballot cast. So, for example, if more people voted on paper than signed up to do so,  and fewer voted electronically than signed up to do so, the numbers could “balance” (one error offsets the other) but the discrepancy will not be noted, investigated, or reconciled. This is a step backwards. Ballot statement
Left side is the Certificate of Completion to be signed by all precinct board members and in the center is a small box to enter the number of voters who voted in that precinct. No changes were made to this form. Right side is a new Inspector’s Election Checklist for the precinct captain (inspector) to use to make sure all functions are performed. This is a great improvement and appears to be instituted by the ROV independently. Precinct posting form
Precinct Posting Form. Compliance with completion and posting of this form in past elections had been very poor. This form reports critical information that enables citizens to check against central tabulator reports of ballots cast per precinct. The change for the May 19, 2009 Special Election was the addition of printed instructions on the form stating where/how to post the form and where the second copy is to go. Equally important was the insertion of letters (i.e. K, T, C & D) referring to the boxes on the Ballot Statement where the information is to be taken from. For the November 2008 Election, a color-coded sample was designed, as can be seen here. Although this sample of how to complete a precinct posting form seems clear enough, compliance in the November 2008 Election was still very poor. SRV believes the lettering of the boxes in May 2009 as recommended by SRV made the biggest difference by making it explicit where 
information was to be taken from.
  Voting Equipment Security Log
Illustration and instructions on how to complete the Voting Equipment Security Log. Another excellent improvement, this one recommended by the Management Review firm of Best, Best & Krieger (BB&K). The use of lettering lines and boxes, recommended by SRV, makes it much easier to follow the instructions. The form on the right side of the photo contains several checkmarks, indicating the seal may have been inspected at various points during Election Day. There should be some instructions or explanation for the multiple check marks and perhaps signing with initials should be required.
Results Cartridge
The electronic Results Cartridge (memory card) is placed in an unsealed clear plastic pouch and placed in the Voted Ballot carton along with the voted ballots and the carbon copy of the Ballot Statement. The Voted Ballot Carton is then sealed for delivery to the central counting location.

Ballot statement
The Red Canvass Bag contains vote-by-mail ballots that were dropped off at the precinct, provisional ballots, the street index, and other miscellaneous ballots and documents.

Voted Ballot Carton
The Voted Ballot Carton is being sealed. Note that the seal has already been signed by the election board members BEFORE the carton was sealed – a big NO-NO. The Voted Ballot Carton contains the voted ballots, the Ballot Statement, and the electronic voting unit results cartridge.

Collection Center

 Collection Center showing voted-ballot cartons and red bags delivered from the precincts. When all precincts assigned to a collection center report in, a U-Haul (or similar) van is loaded with the voted-ballot cartons and red bags and all are transported to the Central Tabulator for final processing.

Collection Center Receiving Form
Collection Center Receiving Form (first of two) reports the number and types of items received from the precinct inspectors including their signatures and time of delivery. Much improved following SRV report of inadequate space to 
report problems (see next photo).
Collection Center Exception Form
Collection Center Exception Form (second of two) reports any variances from what is expected.
Designed after SRV reported previous form provided no place to report exceptions including missing seals.

Safety First
Safety First. Much improved safety vests with reflecting tape by workers at the collection centers who then transport 
items to the main office.
Win EDS Reading Results Cartridges
Win EDS report running in real time reflecting status of results cartridges read into the central tabulator. This is the first time observers were allowed to see the monitors for the central tabulators (WIN EDS and WIN ETP).
Footage is available for further review.
  WIN ETP Reading Optech 400C Scanners
WIN ETP report running in real time reflecting the status of ballots being read by the Sequoia Optech 400C scanners. This is again a first time that observers were allowed to see the monitors and thus the actions being taken as they occur. Video is available for further review as well. Ballot Reading Halted
Ballot Reading Halted. This is a real-time report of a stoppage in the reading of ballots showing 4 "pending outstacks" ballots out of 70 Total Ballots. Original images can be enlarged for clarity and video is available. Central Control Sheet for Incoming Collection Centers
Central Control Sheet for Incoming Collection Centers - This is a new document (blown up by ROV to nearly 4' high) listing all the Collection Centers and the precincts they represent. When a Collection Center reports in, the yellow box to the left is checked. This is one of a number of continuing improvements in Riverside County's chain of custody processes.

Riverside Elections Department Heeds SaveRVote for Big Improvements

But County Gets Negative Marks for Pushing DREs


Coverage from Riverside Press Enterprise

Voter Advocacy Group Praises Special Election

By DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A watchdog group critical of how Riverside County has handled past elections said Wednesday that Tuesday's special election vote went smoothly with added accountability.
Temecula-based Save R Vote monitored Tuesday's election and praised Registrar Barbara Dunmore for putting a series of safeguards in place to maintain the integrity of cast ballots.
"This was the most improved, smoothest election that I have seen in seven elections," said Tom Courbat, the group's founder.

The safeguards came from an audit led by former district attorney Grover Trask.
The measures include adding a redesigned ballot statement that precinct workers fill out to account for ballots and signatures, adding a form at ballot collection centers for workers to report if there is something wrong with ballot boxes and installing two computer monitors at the registrar's headquarters for observers to monitor ballot counting.

"This proves they could do it in a big election. It didn't result in that much additional work," Courbat said. "It gives a higher degree of accountability."

Dunmore said Wednesday that the light turnout made the election a perfect time to unveil the new measures.
"We wanted to put them in place as quick as possible," she said. "We worked very hard on that."
Dunmore said she is pleased to hear that Save R Vote found the improvements well executed.

Still, the group remains critical of Riverside County for what it sees as the over use of electronic touch-screen voting machines.

"There's an agenda here, to prove people like electronic voting when given the choice.
It is not about liking.
People like to drive 120 on the freeway, but it is not safe.
You cannot adequately secure these machines."

Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified the use of touch-screen voting machines in 2007, citing security vulnerabilities. She then set conditions for their limited use.
In Tuesday's election, poll workers asked voters whether they wanted to use a paper ballot or an electronic machine.

"There's an agenda here, and the agenda here is to prove people like electronic voting when given the choice. It is not about liking," Courbat said. "People like to drive 120 on the freeway, but it is not safe. You cannot adequately secure these machines."

Courbat criticized the county for not informing voters at polling sites that there have been issues surrounding the machines.

Dunmore said her office must offer voters the choice. She said poll workers can't provide a history of the machines to each voter, and if voters have questions, they can contact her office. The use of electronic voting machines on Tuesday complied with election rules, she said.

"We did see precincts where there were more votes cast on the electronic voting unit than on paper ballots," Dunmore said. "That is a choice made by the voter." On Tuesday, there were 28,148 votes cast on electronic machines, about 41 percent of the ballots cast a precincts, Dunmore said.

Riverside County had at least three precincts, two in Corona and one in Murrieta, where all the votes were cast on the electronic machines, Dunmore said. Fifty-seven precincts didn't have any votes cast on electronic machines.

Reach Duane W. Gang at 951-368-9547 or dgang@PE.com

SaveRVote Report Fills in Missing Pieces of the 2008 Election

April 14, 2009

"Missing Pieces," a devastating citizen review of the 2008 presidential election conducted in Riverside County, CA, will be presented to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors and the press today at 1:30 p.m. by SaveRVote founder (and EDA Election Monitoring Coordinator) Tom Courbat.

(Proceedings will be streamed live over the Internet via this URL:  http://bosvideo.co.riverside.ca.us/ppportal/agenda/webcast.aspx ).

Download Report in PDF

Download Photographic Slideshow

Download Precinct Analysis

IllegibleTabulatorScreenThe report, prepared by Courbat and the citizen volunteers of the SaveRVote election monitoring organization, documents violations of election law and egregious failures by the Riverside County Registrar of Voters, Barbara Dunmore, and her departmental staff, to secure, track, or even properly count the ballots in the November 2008 presidential election. 

SaveRVote monitors on election day and night photographed evidence of election law violations, logged missing memory cards ("electronic ballot boxes"), and in their subsequent 5-month examination of Riverside County election records, found vote counting and ballot auditing errors in official county election reports numbering in the tens and even hundreds of thousands.

The exhaustively documented Missing Pieces report, presented in its entirety here on the EDA website, consists of an executive summary, findings and recommendations, a slideshow of photographic evidence, and a spreadsheet analysis of oversized precincts exceeding legal limits.

SaveRVote concludes its report urging the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to commission an independent auditing firm to conduct a true forensic audit of the county's election canvass process, as well as a computer systems security audit of the county's Sequoia voting system by independent qualified experts.

More than 120 citizen volunteers with SaveRVote examined 20,000 election documents in what is believed to be the most comprehensive forensic review ever performed on a single county election system.

 

MISSING PIECES

A Citizens’ Review of the November 2008 Presidential Election
in Riverside County, California

Presented on April 14, 2009
to
The Riverside County, CA Board of Supervisors

Prepared by SaveRVote
www.savervote.com
A Project of Citizens for Democracy

A nonpartisan organization dedicated to enhancing the democratic process, working
for an effective, open government that is committed to the common good by
“Putting the Public back into the Public’s Business”

For more information, Contact SaveRVote Founder, Tom Courbat, at this

E-mail address, or phone 951-677-6451
 
==============================

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

“Past performance is the best indicator of future performance” – Executive Recruiting principle.

SAVE R VOTE (SRV) has issued five Election Observer Reports beginning with the June 6, 2006 Primary Election to the June 3, 2008 Primary Election Every report has focused on operations related to the following three broad areas of public interest/concern:

1.    Security (including Chain-of-Custody)
2.    Transparency
3.    Accountability/accuracy/auditability

In every report, we have indicated that the vast majority of rank and file ROV employees and the thousands of volunteer precinct workers are hard working, dedicated, reliable individuals whose only failing, if one is to call it that, is that they were not adequately trained There’s a popular saying in the education field: “If the student failed to learn, the teacher failed to teach.”  Consistently every review of election systems in Riverside or throughout the state has cited lack of adequate training as one of the top problems.

In every past SRV report, we identified serious breaches in all three of the categories listed above and in training In most instances, some changes resulted from our findings and recommendations, but many deficiencies remained and were identified repeatedly in subsequent reports Many, if not most of our previous findings and recommendations are confirmed by the very recent Best, Best & Krieger review commissioned by the Board and presented on March 3, 2009.

SAVE R VOTE’s findings and recommendations appear in a table beginning on page 6.

We commend the Board of Supervisors for taking two very important steps in the last two years. The first step was the appointment of a “Blue Ribbon” Election Review Committee (ERC) in December 2006. In July 2007 the ERC issued a final report containing 17 recommendations including converting immediately to a hybrid system driven primarily by a paper ballot process, and hiring an outside firm to review security procedures of the Registrar of Voters (ROV). (See  http://www.clerkoftheboard.co.riverside.ca.us/agendas/2007/2007_07_17/03.25.pdf ).

The cover letter from Committee Chair Kay Ceniceros stated, “Widely used and lauded just a few years ago, concerns with electronic voting, including its 3% error rate, have led to extensive discussion. These issues are of concern to our committee and to county voters, many of whom are concerned.”

In August 2007, Secretary of State Debra Bowen issued a “Top to Bottom Review” of findings from a team of top computer scientists she commissioned to review the security of electronic voting systems.  

The report on the Sequoia system stated, “The threat model …assumes two classes of threats:  insiders and outsiders… Our testing identified a number of security issues that are of great concern…we were able to bypass both the physical and the software security protections of the Sequoia system.” 

As a result, the Secretary decertified the entire Sequoia System including the voting machines, the results cartridges, the Optech 400C scanners, and the WinEDS Central Tabulator software. (See  http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting_systems/ttbr/sequoia_102507.pdf ).

The Sequoia System was then immediately re-certified if and only if 41 Conditions of Certification were continuously met. (See http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting_systems/ttbr/sequoia_dunmore.pdf). Those conditions of certification have not been continuously met, as documented by Best, Best and Krieger and by this and previous SAVE R VOTE reports.

The second step the Board took was to engage the services of Best, Best and Krieger (BB&K) on October 7, 2008 to “…initiate an operational review of the ROV’s election process for the November 4, 2008 Consolidated General Election…and it was agreed that Mr. Tom Courbat would act as an ‘independent reviewer to the Registrar of Voters’ operational review.’”  The Board’s decision to approve this election operation process review came on the heels of a September 16, 2008 report to the Board entitled “Broken Links” detailing SRV observations of significant security and transparency concerns and containing recommendations related to the June 2008 Primary Election and future elections.

The BB&K report was presented to the Board on March 3, 2009 and contained 82 findings and 36 recommendations. (See http://www.clerkoftheboard.co.riverside.ca.us/agendas/2009/03_03_09/16.03.pdf).

Former District Attorney Grover Trask headed up a 36-member team that reviewed operations before, during and after the Election. While it was not termed an audit, nor did the Board or CEO request an audit per se, it was a very thorough “Operational, Security & Accountability Review of the November 4, 2008 Riverside County Election & Ballot Process” [The BB&K Review].

As stated on page 30 of the BB&K Review, “The Audit Team did not conduct a forensic audit. With respect to transparency of the ballot reconciliation process and other canvassing processes, the specific adequacy of the procedures cannot be determined without a forensic audit.”  

In other words, according to the 500-page BB&K review, a true forensic audit is needed to determine if the ROV is properly completing a very critical aspect of the electoral process – the canvass – a highly complex and intensive post-election process to verify and validate the election results. BB&K was not asked to validate the election results.

There is a second critical area that was not formally within the scope of the BB&K Review. No review was conducted of audit and event logs and databases from the central tabulator, the computer-driven ballot scanners, and the voting machines (aka Direct Recording Electronic or DREs).

Simply put, the logs reveal what processes are occurring before, during, and after the processing of the voter’s ballots, and can reveal whether tampering has occurred. This is true whether the ballot is paper and processed through the computer-programmed scanners, or electronic and processed through the DREs and ultimately through the central tabulator. The scope of the review did not specify that BB&K should attempt such a review or to determine if viruses or malicious or innocuous code had been inserted anywhere throughout the voting system.

THE CASE FOR CONTINUOUS CLOSE SCRUTINY OF ELECTION OPERATIONS

The importance of such a review cannot be overstated In Pima County, AZ after a court order was issued to release the audit/event logs and databases from the May 16 2005 election, reviewers found significant anomalies in the vote count related to a $2 billion public transit bond issue. Four similar bond measures had failed previously. The audit logs revealed a high likelihood that elections officials had changed the vote data on 90 voting machines’ results cartridges and illegally printed out the absentee voter results as they came in prior to the election -- violating the law and the sacred trust placed in them to keep the results secret until after the polls closed on Election Day.

Further investigation revealed that this practice had likely been going on since 2004 until officials were confronted about it in December 2006. http://www.bradblog.com/?p=6160

On December 20, 2006, former Monterey County Registrar of Voters Tony Anchundo pleaded “no contest” to 43 criminal counts, including charges of forgery, misapplication of funds, embezzlement, falsification of accounts, and grand theft of nearly $80,000 of county money http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3937

Last month, in Clay County, Kentucky five Clay County officials, including the circuit court judge, the county clerk, and election officers were arrested after they were indicted on federal charges accusing them of using corrupt tactics to obtain political power and personal gain.

(See http://www.lex18.com/Global/story.asp?S=10037216&nav=menu203_2 ).
The 10-count indictment, unsealed on March 19th, accused the defendants of a conspiracy from March 2002 until November 2006 that violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). RICO is a federal statute that prosecutors use to combat organized crime. The defendants were also indicted for extortion, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to injure voters' rights and conspiracy to commit voter fraud http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7001

According to the indictment, these alleged criminal actions affected the outcome of federal, local, and state primary and general elections in 2002, 2004, and 2006.

The purpose of informing your Board of these recent examples of elections operations gone very awry is to emphasize that “it can happen here”, and to suggest mitigation efforts that make it highly unlikely anything of this type will happen on your watch.

SAVE R VOTE is in no way suggesting that illegal activities are occurring in the Riverside County ROV office However, there are insufficient controls and oversight to reveal breaches The BB&K team reported that “…gaps in the existing security and chain of custody could eventually lead to serious threats to the integrity of the County’s election system.”  Eventually could be 10 years from now, or it could be 10 days from now. SAVE R VOTE recommends a forensic audit of the canvass process and a computer systems audit by appropriate experts at the soonest possible time and recommends revenue enhancements/cost reductions to provide the financial resources to do so.

One reason there is a belief the election system is working correctly is because no independent outside forensic experts have analyzed the post-election verification system or the logs and databases of the ROV.  We have witnessed the collapse of the financial systems in the U.S. partly due to a lack of critical outside auditing, allowing unsafe practices to eventually undermine the entire system

Election systems are very vulnerable to tampering given the secretive nature of the private corporations that produce the proprietary software and hardware and the lack of independent scrutiny of the system. Federal and state testing of the systems is so infrequent and the ability of the voting systems companies or insiders to make uncertified modifications so great, that certifications issued years ago cannot be relied upon to ensure the integrity of the system today.

The final report of the Baker/Carter Election Reform Commission contained a stark warning: "There is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries."  That is not to say that most election officials and voting systems employees are not trustworthy, but nowhere is the phrase “Trust, but verify” more appropriate than in our electoral system

The FAA requires that emergency parachutes be unpacked, inspected and repacked at least annually. But our voting systems only go before federal and state authorities every five or more years. If local authorities don’t take interim precautionary measures, election results could be consistently compromised and never detected.

RisingCostsofSequoiaSystemWe recognize the severe financial constraints the county is under but citizens are entitled to know that the local election system has been scrutinized by independent outside experts on a regular basis and found to be secure from tampering. Right now there is no independent outside verification that a comprehensive system is in place to detect a well-orchestrated attack that would alter election results. Ignorance is not bliss; it is inviting disaster.

Recommendations contained in this report could easily enhance revenues and reduce costs of operation of the ROV office, in order to implement the recommendations to engage an independent outside forensic audit and computer system security audit. We are aware that the County Information Security Office has been reviewing security elements of the ROV operations, but it is always beneficial to have a totally unbiased and independent review.

SAVE R VOTE engaged 120 volunteers to monitor the November election process. The effort was led by former Riverside County Finance Director Tom Courbat who has an MBA in financial management and over 25 years of local government experience. Others on the team include former government officials from Los Angeles and San Diego counties in California and King County in Washington. One member of the team holds a Ph.D in economics.

Each person donated significant time and effort to the project at their own expense. More than 100 precincts were monitored on Election Day, amounting to far more than a 10% sampling. More than 20,000 documents were examined by the team and associates over a period of five months.  The post-election document review is believed to be the most comprehensive forensic review ever performed on a single county election system.

 

The major findings and recommendations are contained in the table on the following pages.

 


SAVE R VOTE – Findings and Recommendations

1.  There is no independent verification of the validity of election results.

Engage a forensic audit of the canvass (internal verification) to validate election results and establish ongoing verification

2.  There is no independent review of the computerized election system that would reveal false results.

Engage an outside independent computer systems audit to assess threat levels and ensure adequate controls are in place to detect tampering at all vulnerable points

3.  The cost of performing the 100% tally of the e-votes in February, June and November 2008 elections could approach $750,000
Sequoia Systems is required to reimburse the county as a condition of the certification of the system.

Aggressively pursue full reimbursement for all three elections and future elections

4.  The ongoing costs & vulnerability of the electronic voting system far exceed the costs & security of a full paper-ballot system In November, 89% of the ballots cast were on paper.

Transition back to a full paper ballot system utilizing DIOS (Digital Imaging Optical Scan) imaging scanners as recommended by expert Harri Hursti in 2007.

5.  The Transparency Project in Humboldt County uses Ballot Browser (BB) & scans all ballots and posts the images to the Internet. Citizen reviewers identified a loss of 197 ballots on the certified count and a flaw in the E-Voting software.

Seek SOS approval to implement the Ballot Browser (BB) program. It is scalable to large counties & the results provide complete transparency to citizens of the ballot tabulation process It gives citizens a higher confidence level when they can audit the results.

6. Failure to comply with at least 8 Conditions of Certification put the County at risk of the entire Sequoia System being decertified.

Direct the ROV to immediately comply with all Conditions of Certification and to report what actions she is taking to comply.

7. The ROV has consistently refused to release audit and event logs and databases (no voter identification) for public scrutiny The Pima County experience illustrates the importance of making these public documents available as a fraud deterrent Monterey County recently released similar documents after careful consideration.

Direct County Counsel to review the concept that these reports are created by a governmental body conducting the public's business (even though that body is using a proprietary system); they don't reveal anything proprietary (see GovCode 6253.9(c)); and they don't reveal anything that would jeopardize the security of a voting system (ibid.) On the contrary, close examination and analysis of audit logs might reveal breaches in or attempts to breach security.

8. Compliance with various legal and regulatory requirements continues to be a problem Examples include not posting ballot counts at precincts, extensive delays in releasing public documents (120 days) and refusal to provide a viewable public monitor of the central tabulator. These actions project a mindset that it is acceptable to selectively comply or delay compliance; they also create the impression that the ROV has something to hide.

Direct the ROV to be proactive in complying with all legal and regulatory requirements, whether or not she agrees with those requirements.

9.  During the 100% tally of e-votes the ROV moved the process from a public area to a non-public area and tally teams were reduced from a mandatory size of 4 to half that size, rendering the process non-compliant Initially observers were precluded from directly viewing and hearing the process but upon complaint, these problems were resolved. State requirements specify tally processes to be conducted in full public view at all times.

Direct the ROV to proactively pursue a policy and practice of full transparency and to conduct the tally processes with the required number of team members Two individuals cannot ensure non-collusion in the tally (vote verification) process The requirement of four is to ensure that the person reading off the votes is reading them properly and that the 2 individuals marking the tally sheets are marking them as called.

10. It appears that the ROV issued Policy A-25 in January 2009 retroactively (to the November election) imposing a prohibition on releasing electronic documents in their original format as required by law. ROV staff wrote that this was also countywide policy.

Investigate to determine if this policy was issued retroactively and determine if it conflicts with Government Code Section 6253.9(a) that requires the release of documents in original electronic format Inquiry to the Clerk of the Board indicated no such countywide policy exists.

11.  SRV made an inquiry regarding an increase of nearly 20,000 counted ballots between spreadsheets received on December 11th and December 17th, both after the December 2nd certification The ROV indicated this increase was because “outstacked ballots” had been added to the count and that the addition was made prior to certification Documentation of the number of outstacked ballots was requested but not responded to by report deadline.

Direct the CEO to investigate the addition of the 20,000 counted ballots and to determine if the explanation is supported by documentation and direct that the documentation be made public at the earliest possible date This is a prime example of the difficulty of verifying the reconciliation of the ballots on an independent basis.

12.  The ROV withheld what is the most significant of all election-related documents -- the unlocked electronic Ballot Reconciliation spreadsheet -- until one day before this SaveRVote report to the Board was due. By doing so, the ROV severely limited time for review. The spreadsheet contained new information not previously revealed including the number of provisional ballots counted, an item necessary to reconcile the total ballot counts.

The Board can assist in ensuring the entire election process is transparent by directing the ROV to respond timely to California Public Records Act (CPRA) requests. In this case, 120 days elapsed before the ROV released this document. The ROV’s refusal to release in a timely manner was not in compliance with the CPRA.

13. On two occasions, December 16th and March 5th, the audit firm and SAVE R VOTE respectively requested the ballot reconciliation spreadsheet with totals in each of 30+ columns that were 721 lines long (corresponding to the number of precincts). Since the ROV refused to provide the spread-sheet in anything but a “locked” format, validation of the totals the ROV provided was labor (cost) intensive and not performed. When SRV did run totals on April 7th, it was discovered that the totals were wrong.

Direct the ROV to provide documents requested under CPRA in the legally required electronic format. Validating data in an electronic spreadsheet can be done in a matter of seconds when provided in an unlocked format. Provision of the data in printed format (17 pages long) or PDF or otherwise locked format requires hours of unnecessary and potentially error-prone manual tallying, in this case, of up to 20,000 data elements. Withholding data is contrary to GC 6253.1(a) requiring the agency to “assist” the public in obtaining the requested information and creates the impression that the ROV has something to hide.

14. The ROV has responded to the requirement that all voting units be stored in locked or secure locations once delivered to precincts by stating “locked storage…presents challenges …if the ‘holder of the key’ cannot be found….”  Such ‘challenges’ should have a ‘Plan B’ solution as opposed to reluctance to seek locked storage.

Direct the ROV to proactively initiate ‘Plan B’ approaches so there is a way to release machines from secure storage on Election Eve/Election Day Securing the machines from tampering is critical to ensuring a credible election outcome.

15. SAVE R VOTE was able to verify that roughly 1/3 of the precinct postings were completed and were accurate. There is a long history of reluctance/refusal by the ROV to comply with precinct posting requirements. This is a critical “check and balance” against the computer generated numbers that is lost without compliance.

Direct the ROV to review the precinct information and identify those precincts where no or inaccurate information was posted. Focus enhanced training on those precinct inspectors if they return in that capacity in future elections. Emphasize strongly to new precinct workers how critical this is to the validation process.

16.  The Ballot Processing Audit Form (BPAF) is not a useable tool in any useful way for a two-card ballot.

Develop a process to batch the two cards separately from each other to achieve accurate counts, and develop a BPAF to accurately account for a two-card ballot election.

16a.  There is no central capture of anomaly data from each and every batch to compare and perform audit functions upon.

Such central capture and analysis of precinct to precinct anomaly data should begin immediately.

17.  The precinct sizes are substantially oversize for good election management, disaster recovery, and demographic purposes in general ?Election Code Section 12223 establishes a maximum of 1,000 registered voters per precinct as of 88 days prior to elections. After adjusting for voter registration surges up to E-15, the last day to register, it appears that as many as 211 precincts are too large, with 149 preceincts rated “critical” and 35 "in crisis.” Two precincts had more than 3,000 registered voters. See spreadsheet for details.

Hold off on any precinct adjustments, except those necessary to comply with boundary changes and to comply with state law. Reduce precinct sizes substantially when re-drawing boundaries at decennial redistricting in 2011. SRV understands that the ROV intends to significantly reduce the number of precincts for the May 19, 2009 election due to anticipated lower turnout. It should be noted that this “rejiggering” of precincts will likely cause considerable confusion for voters who are used to going to the same precinct election after election.

18.  Meaningful observation of canvass activities has improved significantly but is still inconsistent from election to election and from tally to tally.

The BB&K report recommends that “the ROV adopt rules and procedures that will ensure that the public can at all times meaningfully observe the process for both the 1% and 10% tally.” – emphasis by BB&K in 12/18/08 memorandum.

19.  During the 1% and 10% tallies, SRV observed erasures being made on tally sheets (contrary to law) and an absence of supervisors’ recording of ongoing issues regarding balancing problems as required by law. When SRV asked to see the supervisors’ notations of issues raised and resolved, they were informed no such documents were being maintained.

There should never be erasures on tally sheets – it defeats the purpose of independent tallying/verification of election results Forensic examination revealed examples of erasures and changing of totals This practice should be stopped immediately and supervisors should record all issues related to the tallies on “event sheets” or similar documents to ensure a clear trail of how tally problems were addressed and resolved.

20.  SRV reviewed more than 300 Election Officer Comment Sheets wherein precinct workers and supervisors provided their perspective on what the key issues were at the polls A summary of key findings is attached at page 12.

The ROV routinely reviews these reports and implements those suggestions that are feasible We encourage the ROV to continue this important practice.


CONCLUSIONS

SAVE R VOTE continues to provide citizen-based real-time and forensic monitoring and review of ROV operations Unfortunately the more we look, the more issues we find that impact on the security, transparency, and accuracy/accountability/auditability of operations in Riverside County It is our sincere hope that the combination of recommendations from BB&K and SAVE R VOTE will be implemented in a professional and meaningful manner.

We regret that the process is as confrontational as it is. We recognize that no one appreciates being put under a microscope, but the importance of the integrity of the electoral process demands a high degree of citizen oversight. The volunteer citizen observers bring a level of insight to the ROV and the Board and the citizens of Riverside County that cannot be duplicated at any price. We serve willingly with the sole goal of achieving secure, accurate, and transparent elections for the citizens of Riverside County

Relevant documents follow including a photo illustrating how the computer housed in a scanner cabinet can appear to be fully secured but actually unlocked and very unsecure. Hence the need to “trust, but verify.”

We look forward to presenting our findings to the Board on Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 1:30 pm.

[Additional evidentiary exhibits follow]


SECURITY:
When “sealed” doesn’t mean secured (or locked)

Seals like this are placed over all keyholes to ensure no one can access the cabinet of the high- speed Sequoia 400-C Optech Scanner, used to count the ballots.  Inside the “locked” cabinet is the computer or “brains” of the unit, where programming changes can be made (altered) to instruct the scanner to count every 10th vote for Bob as a vote for Roger, for example.  Thus it is critical that the seal be placed over a locked access point.

taped lockDuring a test of the security and operational integrity of the unit, it was discovered that the cabinet was not locked, yet the seal gave the appearance that it was. 

In this example, a person could have accessed the computer inside, made the type of change mentioned above, and re-secured the unit.  In theory, the tape (seal) would have shown the word “Opened” or a series of dots. 

However, until SAVE R VOTE questioned the existence of a log regarding replacement seals, no recording of such information was taking place.  The log was implemented right after SAVE R VOTE asked to see the log.  Without logs, anyone with access can do anything with impunity and not be caught.

Loose doors that appear secured give a perfect opportunity to change election results without a trace.

After witnessing this security gaffe, SAVE R VOTE asked that ROV staff take 10 seconds and “wiggle” each of the doors on each of the other seven (7) high-speed Optech ballot scanners/counters.  ROV staff refused to perform that simple test that would have revealed if other counting units were similarly unlocked.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Election Officers’ Comment Sheet
Overview

The Election Officers’ Comment Sheet provides a first-hand report from volunteer poll workers responsible for an individual precinct Save R Vote requested to view these documents at the desk in the lobby of the Registrar of Voter’s office The comment sheets had been pulled from the spiral-bound precinct booklets by ROV staffMore than 300 images were photographed from the pages provided Select comments were then transcribed from these images for this report.

Several themes emerge from reviewing these documents.

Training:  Although a DVD provided by the Registrar of Voters to poll workers was generally commended, several election officers suggested that the training classes needed improvement. Notes reflect that inadequately trained poll workers allowed dozens of voters to cast ballots without signing the precinct roster voters (Precinct 11418).

Provisional Ballots: Numerous precincts ran out of paper provisional ballots by mid-afternoon Precinct 11521 reported mistakenly providing regular voters with provisional ballots for the first two hours.

Vote By Mail: Many notations of VBM voters claiming they never received election material (Precincts 11707, 14007).

Paper Ballots: The unusual ballot design continues to befuddle voters Election officers provided suggestions to improve signs instructing voters how to mark the ballot (Precincts 11402, 30934, 35732).

Electronic Voting: The comments show a voter and poll worker preference to bring back the familiar voting machines Some election officers made notations when the units needed paper changes, experienced printer problems or other malfunctions with voting units Precinct 11104 reported that the audio would not work on their Assistive Voting Unit for a visually impaired woman, but the woman was able to vote thanks to a magnifying glass Precinct 21111 noted: “Voters had a hard time reading the font on the veri-vote machineFont needs to be bolder and more senior-citizen friendly.”

Registration/Precinct Changes: Typos, mix-ups with registration include voters changed to VBM, who did not request the change Voters accustomed to voting at the same precinct for years were switched to other precinctsPrecinct 14007 reported:

“Large # of voters are listed as "Vote by mail" but they did not request that nor received a ballotLarge # of voters received sample ballot with this as their polling place but they were not listed on the roster.”  Precinct 51014 noted: “Several people (30 or 40) have been dismayed that they have voted at this precinct for years and their names are left out of our roster.”

Conclusions: Poor training and changes in registration status and polling location instigated by the Registrar of Voters frustrated and possibly disenfranchised a significant number of voters and contributed to a widespread increase in the use and depletion of provisional ballots Voting machines are preferred when the alternative is a nonconforming paper ballot design and poll workers receiving inadequate training also prefer the voting system that are more familiar to them It is noteworthy that a voter that really could have used the assistance of a voting device ended up relying on a magnifying glass to vote and as noted from a different precinct, due to the small print on the VeriVote printers, visually impaired voters are unable to verify their ballot choices were recorded as selected.

-- End of Report --

Download Report in PDF

Download Photographic Slideshow

Download Precinct Analysis

 


 

Help Us Make SaveRVote a Model for the Nation

SaveRVote is an EDA affiliate organization, working with EDA to develop election monitoring methodology for adoption by citizen election integrity groups across the nation.

If you would like to support this important work with a tax-deductible financial contribution, you may earmark a donation for the Election Monitoring Curriculum Project on the EDA donation page.

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Election Defense Alliance is a sponsored project of International Humanities Center, a 501(c)(3) organization

 

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SaveRVote_Nov08_Election_Report_RiversideCo.pdf4.43 MB
MissingPieces_Evidence_Slides.pdf2.6 MB
Riverside_Oversized_Precincts.xls187.5 KB

Save R Vote Report Prompts Audit of Riverside Co. Election Department

Riverside County (CA) Board of Supervisors today ordered
an immediate probe of the Riverside County election department
after recently hearing the
SAVE R VOTE report on the June 3, 2008 election deficiencies.


This is a sweeping victory for SAVE R VOTE and the Election Integrity movement and an opportunity to learn much more about the election process and to help us to help others.

My thanks to all the members and supporters of SAVE R VOTE, many who have worked tirelessly for three and a half years. We are finally being heard. This has the potential to be a model for other counties in CA and throughout the U.S.

But then, we need to see how comprehensive and sweeping the audit will be. I suspect there will be a lot more revealed than SAVE R VOTE could have EVER uncovered on our own.

Stay tuned!

-- Tom Courbat
Executive Director, Save R Vote
EDA Coordinator for Election Monitoring

=========================

NEWS COVERAGE Announcing Audit

California News Service (CANS)
: A County Launches Election Probe Of Registrar Of Voters Office


LISTEN to CANS radio story

READ CANS news article

The Desert Sun
– Former DA Hired to Oversee Audit of County’s Registrar of Voters Office
www.mydesert.com/article/20081007/NEWS01/81007040/-1/rss

The Press Enterprise
– Former DA to Oversee Vote Audit

http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_S_audit08.3de8db1.html

ABC Ch3 – KESQ-TV – Palm Springs
– Election Probe Begins During Early Voting

http://www.kesq.com/global/story.asp?s=9141827

=========================

Download the Save R Vote Report on the CA June 08 Primary Election that Prompted the Audit:

"Broken Chains of Custody"

CA News Service Report on the Riverside Audit: Audio download and Print Report

http://www.publicnewsservice.org/index.php?/content/article/6673-1

Read More About the Save R Vote Election Monitoring Project:

http://electiondefensealliance.org/SaveRVote

Save R Vote Poll Watcher's Guide -- an Election Monitoring Training Manual

http://electiondefensealliance.org/files/SaveRVote_Election_Monitoring_Guide_2008.pdf

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Broken_Chains_of_Custody_SRV_0608.pdf2.98 MB

SAVE R VOTE Report: Election Found Expensive, Insecure, Illegal, Unqualified and Unaudited (Tom Courbat; 7/11/06)

On Tues. July 11, 2006 the SAV R VOTE Election monitoring project delivered its report on election violations documented during the June Primary election, to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Reports were then issued to the media at a press conference immediately following.

 


Click to download SAVE R VOTE Report PDF Word

This is almost certainly the most thoroughly documented citizen observation of an election ever assembled. The Riverside Registrar of Voters persisted in numerous violations of the state Elections Cod--including denying access to observe electoral processes--even after these violations were brought to her attention by the citizen observors. The SAV R VOTE monitoring project was organized and managed by Tom Courbat and DFA-Temecula Valley. Tom and the report co-authors (below) are members of California Election Protection Network (CEPN). Tom is also the Coordinator of the Election Monitoring Working Group of ElectionDefenseAlliance.org. SAVE R VOTE: Riverside County Board of Supervisors Presentation 7/11/06 Members of DFA-TV have been coming to these chambers for the past two years in the interest of improving the integrity of elections in Riverside County. Just as Ellen Terich promised you earlier this year, we are not going away. After our recommendation to form a year-round Citizenís Independent Voting Integrity Commission was declined, DFA-TV initiated the SAVE R VOTE project to monitor the June 6 primary election. With $500 and 50 trained volunteers, SAVE R VOTE monitored 8 polling places to determine the integrity of the countyís $15 million electronic voting system that was purchased in a no-bid, sole source contract against our strong objection. Until this year, there has been no outside independent assessment of the countyís electronic voting system. God only knows what went on during the past 5 years. Our sole objective is ensuring that the election process is transparent, secure and accurate. What we observed is that Riversideís election system is none of those things. The Registrar of Voters is going to give you a rosy report of a successful election, but the details of that report coupled with critical lapses in chain of custody reported by our observers provides a more onerous perspective. Itís really hard to find a more egregious affront to the will of the voter than the fact that voters who requested paper ballots to avoid voting electronically were asked to insert the completed ballot in an envelope without using the inner sleeve that protects voter anonymity on absentee ballots. The envelope revealing the voterís name and other information was opened at the Registrarís office, where an election worker copied votes from the paper ballots and entered them into a DRE voting machine. And we have no way of knowing that the votes were entered accurately. At a parking lot site where electronic voting cartridges and the VeriVote printers from dozens of precincts were delivered after the polls closed to be transported to the Gateway office for tallying, SAVE R VOTE observers witnessed understandably tired, frustrated poll workers unpacking bags and cartridges from secure containers to speed up the process so they could go home. One poll worker was in such a hurry, she took off from the polling place to the collection center without the tub of printers and had to go back and retrieve it. The election night chaos SAVE R VOTE observers witnessed helps explain how 17 voting cartridges went missing after the close of polls. The Registrarís office failed to create and maintain a ìperpetual chain of custody record for all of the memory cards used with the systemî as required by the National Association of State Election Directors on March 22, 2006. The GAO and various panels recommend best practices to secure electronic voting equipment, but the county that was first to utilize electronic voting seems to be the very last to implement recommendations designed to safeguard our votes. The delays and indecision in the Registrar of Voters office cost taxpayers more than $6 million. Had the county simply accepted upcoming changes in election law and retrofitted the existing Edge I machines with VeriVote printers like other counties did, instead of resisting compliance, the county would not have been pressured to buy all new voting machines at the last minute. This county inexplicably has chosen to spend well over $30 million on electronic voting machines that citizens avoid in increasing numbers. Since the inception of electronic voting, the use of paper absentee ballots has substantially increased. Of the polling places observed by SAVE R VOTE, very few voting machines recorded more than 40 votes, yet independent observers recorded an equipment failure rate approaching 20 percent. The Registrarís report is far different from ours, as once again the equipment is represented as nearly flawless. SAVE R VOTE evaluation forms showed a much higher percentage of problems with voter activation cards, touchscreen responsiveness and printers than reflected in the Registrarís. Voters who experienced difficulty entering votes with their finger were offered a stylus, but the precincts didnít have enough to go around. These inconveniences drive more voters away from the polls in favor of the simplicity and familiarity of paper absentee ballots. The concerns and recommendations DFA-TV has brought to this board on repeated occasions are now being reported in the mainstream media by the likes of Roger Hedgecock, Lou Dobbs and broadcast professionals. Multiple independent reports tell you the exact same thing we have been professing these past 2 years. The recent Brennan report received national attention in the press for concluding that an electronic election can be hacked by just one person and the report prescribes independent audits as a safeguard against corruption. The GAO report on electronic elections suggests independent observation of the election process as a step toward establishing the integrity of elections. It is interesting that the Registrarís report to you today is dated June 30, 2006, yet on page 12; the report states that election totals on the countyís web site were amended on July 5 due to a discrepancy. These discrepancies do not instill confidence in Riversideís election system. Arbitrary directives that allowed photography, but prohibited tripods question the logic behind election procedures that still remain seriously flawed after 37 electronic elections. The question the Board may want to consider is would you rather initiate an independent audit of Riversideís electronic election system on your own or wait until it is required by a court order? An independent audit of Riversideís election system is a wise investment compared to funding a legal defense. The county has spent more than 30 million taxpayer dollars on electronic voting in 6 years and the county is past due for a complete professional independent outside audit of the system and an analysis of the cost verses benefits. As concerned taxpayers of Riverside County, we respectfully request a complete independent, outside financial audit of the Registrar of Voterís office that includes the amount spent on purchase and maintenance of electronic voting equipment, software and firmware since inception in the year 2000 up to June 30, 2006, along with a cost comparison estimate (including cost per voter) had the county continued with the tradition and security of paper ballots. This audit should separately include tracking the costs and trends for absentee ballots throughout this time period. As citizens who have seen first hand the voting systems problems of this county, we request an independent, outside process audit of the RoVís election policies, procedures and compliance with state election code and federal laws including recommendations of actions to implement prior to the November General Election. This should include an in-progress election audit during the 2006 November General election with additional findings and recommendations for improvements following the audit of the election. The county has spent $30 million on this voting equipment ñ weíd like to find out if it has major weaknesses that can compromise an election. While the county has embarked on the second generation of DRE touchscreen voting machines in 6 years, how is it the optical scanners that process nearly half the votes in the county have not been replaced since the 1980ís? These scanners are in fact so old that the manufacturer (DFM) refuses to submit them for federal certification, and has threatened to discontinue support if the county demands it. As taxpayers, we demand accountability. Thirty million dollars would go a long way to build additional jail or put more law enforcement officers on the street, but instead the county has insisted on giving all that money to Venezuelan-owned Sequoia Voting Syteems without seeking competitive bids. The original justification for the switch to electronic voting was that the county would save $600,000 in annual election printing costs, but in the past 6 years, the cost of procuring and maintaining an electronic voting system has averaged over $5 million per year. DFA-TV has repeatedly come to you offering options, while the Registrar of Voters comes to you with last minute proposals to spend huge sums of money to keep the electronic voting train running. DFA-TV pointed out the need for a performance clause (the proposed system was uncertified, contrary to what the RoV testified to) in the February 2006 purchase contract between the county and Sequoia Voting Systems and we have demonstrated errors in the Registrarís reports and shown a greater familiarity with election law than the person you rely on to run that office. Elections can no longer be trusted to one person or one office, because the complicated technology now in place requires an interdisciplinary approach. To preserve the integrity of the process you now need experts in finance, computer programming and electronic security, just for starters. The leap in technology requires a team approach and whatever electronic voting provides in expediency, it comes at great expense. The Board of Supervisors has authorized a huge expenditure for a convoluted electronic voting system based solely on the in-house recommendations of county executives with no independent outside consultation (except for Sequoia). DFA-TV has proven the value of input from independent outsiders and therefore our third formal request is for the county to establish a year-round citizenís independent voting integrity commission to review electoral operations in the county and make recommendations to the Board. The commission should be comprised of one member appointed by each county Central Committee Chair from each political party and 5 members from the election integrity community. We are eager to work with the county to ensure that Riverside Countyís election process is transparent, secure and accurate. We prefer to assist in an advisory position rather than an adversarial role. Auditing something the county has spent well over $30 million on in 6 years makes a lot of sense. The complexity of electronic election systems and changing laws begs for a year-round county commission to assure the public that the process is open, honest and accurate. We respectfully request you schedule an open workshop meeting before August first with representatives from the Board of Supervisors, the Registrar of Voters, SAVE R VOTE and members of the public to discuss implementing these 3 recommendations vital to election integrity.


SAVE R VOTE: Report on the June 6, 2006 Primary Election

Click here for a PDF version of the report.

The SAV R VOTE Riverside County Election Monitoring Report

Citizens in Riverside County formed a task force of 70 volunteers to monitor every aspect of the June primary election in Riverside, CA -- from preparation of the machines and voting registration lists and absentee ballot mailing weeks in advance of the election, through detailed point inspections of the counting, to monitoring of the 1% manual audit tally and reconciliation of all vote reports to produce the final canvass.

This is an eye-opening account of official obstructions to citizen participation and observation of our electoral process, as well as overt violations of state election laws, that are more outrageous, and more common in practice, than you would like to believe.

Highly recommended as a guide for citizens in any county in the U.S., about how to monitor an election, what to look for, and what you need to know about the laws upholding your right to know how our elections are being conducted.

To download the report, click on the link in the box labeled Attachment immediately below this post.

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Riverside County, CA Citizens Observe 1% Manual Tally Election Audit on (Tom Courbat; 6/13/06)

These photos were taken yesterday, Tuesday, June 13th. We had 10 observers to observe the 5 tables of 4 counters each for the 1% manual tally. Yesterday in Riverside was very unlike our experience in San Diego County's Mayoral recount last year where we were allowed to stand directly behind the counters and view what they were viewing, hear what they were saying, and record what we saw. Cameras and video cameras on tripods were perfectly ok. In Riverside, we were told to remain behind barriers (tables set end to end) that were about 10 feet or so from the tables of those who were conducting the tally. (See the photos) They sat close together and two had their backs to us, so we could see very little. They were instructed to speak very quietly and thus we were not able to hear what they were reading or saying. We were allowed to video tape, but not with a Tripod that would have assured a steady hand so the focus on the paper trails would have been sharp enough to create a clean permanent record on tape. We were told the reason for the no-tripod rule was that it made the counters "nervous". We could video tape so long as the tally was going smoothly! Any time a problem arose, the counting team raised a plastic flag on their table signaling the need for another employee to assist in resolving the problem, and we were instructed to turn off the video tape until after the issue was resolved. We were never given a report on what the problem was, nor could we hear the discussion. When we would ask management staff to interpret what was going on, they were generally either rude or provided very short, basic and unhelpful answers. We were told we should just watch and we could learn everything we needed to know. We have some of that dialog on videotape as well. This experience was not unlike what we went through on Election Night at the Central Tabulator. We were again restricted to an area where we could not observe the data input devices and the associated error messages. We were never informed of what problems were occurring, or what was done to correct them. The monitor for the Central Tabulator was turned such that those in the Press Room could view it, but it could not be seen by the members of the EOP, submitted by the parties and groups, and approved by Barbara Dudnmore. We were specifically excluded from the press room, and the press that were in there had no cameras or video equipment, so it was another wasted day in Paradise.We have full video of everything and of nothing. It will clearly show what COULD have been taped, but for the arbitrary and capricious nature of the RoV. If someone knows how to FTP it to the Website, I will be glad to do so. In the meantime, here are some still pictures to get your juices flowin'!

Tom Courbat, Riverside, CA

VIDEO: See a summary of the project on EDA TV


The Californian: Concerned Citizens Monitor Every Aspect of Election (Paul Jacobs; 6/8/06)

Go to original.
By Paul Jacobs / The Californian / July 8, 2006

SAVE R VOTE's Project Director Tom Courbat [Coordinator for Election Defense Alliance's Election Monitoring Group] was finance director for the county of Riverside from 1992 to 1994. The county won awards when it trusted Courbat with its finances and county officials should support and enact his recommendations to account for our privatized votes.

I have largely avoided the subject of electronic voting in recent columns while the SAVE R VOTE (Safe And Verifiable Elections Require Voter Observation of Touchscreen Equipment) project of Democracy for America ---- Temecula Valley (DFA-TV) has been in operation. The project report will be released this week.

In January, Jeff Stone and the other county supervisors declined DFA-TV's recommendation of forming a citizen's voting integrity commission, so it became necessary for citizens to independently organize an unofficial observation of the June 6 primary election. The SAVE R VOTE report will be presented to the supervisors at their Tuesday meeting.

More than 50 volunteers participated in a coordinated effort exercising their legal right to observe the electoral process. Individuals and members of various civic groups monitored eight polling places, working together toward a solitary goal of protecting and preserving our democracy.

Virtually every aspect of voting was evaluated, from early voting at The Promenade mall to the roving voting vehicle. Polling places were monitored from election-eve setup to closing on Election Day. Voting cartridges and the new VeriVote printers were followed from the polling place to the pickup location for delivery to the Registrar of Voters office. A portion of the counting of early, absentee, paper, provisional and electronic ballots was observed.

I have been involved in the SAVE R VOTE project and privy to a preview of some of the data collected. The report reveals that although voter turnout was extremely low, the failure rate of the brand-new voting and printing machines approached 20 percent. While it was reported that most poll workers diligently handled Election Day activities, there were egregious gaps in the chain of custody of election cartridges after the polls closed, including the disappearance of 17 voting cartridges that were accounted for days later.

Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore has been resistant to allowing citizens access to the counting of our votes. Even the legally required election panel is kept at a distance that denies meaningful observation of election workers sitting at tables auditing our votes. Dunmore's arbitrary rules prohibited the use of tripods, but allowed for the videotaping of the verification process until workers came across a problem and raised a flag at their table, at which point the camera was to be shut off.

It was relatively easy for the grassroots group to recruit poll watchers from all walks of life and different political persuasions because the inherent importance of protecting our votes and ensuring that election laws are followed is not lost on most people. The level of voluntary public participation in this civic effort confirms that election integrity is now a mainstream issue that will not go away.

SAVE R VOTE's Project Director Tom Courbat was finance director for the county of Riverside from 1992 to 1994. The county won awards when it trusted Courbat with its finances and county officials should support and enact his recommendations to account for our privatized votes.

The SAVE R VOTE project demonstrates that the people have the power to take the matter of election integrity into their own hands. Citizens will stand to protect this democracy when officeholders fail their essential obligations.
______________________

Paul Jacobs of Temecula is a regular columnist for The Californian.
Contact: TemeculaPaul[at]aol[dot]com

Riverside RoV Concedes, DREs Are on the Way Out

Riverside County Board of Supervisors

September 29, 2009

(Partial transcript of board meeting)

             Re: November 2008 Election and Electronic Voting – Item 3.66

 Supervisor Buster: It [decertification] was a big blow to many of us who invested in this [$30+ million for e-voting machines] and I think to the public to see most of the use snatched away from us now. And as I pointed out to her now, somewhat inconsistently, if the touchscreens are so potentially dangerous or so potentially unreliable then why is it that the Secretary of State continues to allow one, one per voting place resulting in our 72,000 voters using it as a matter of fact. And then having to do the extra manual tally with all its extra costs and then not getting reimbursed for that. It seems to me there’s a big gulf between the county voters here a growing proportion of them and the representation they are getting from our Secretary of State. She should have come down here and talked to us before she rescinded the use of these machines. And she should be more responsive to the numerous voters, the thousands of them who want to use these machines and she should be explaining to us what now can we do with these thousands of machines that are sitting on the shelf. Shouldn’t we be using those as voters demand and ask for them as evidenced by those 72,000 people crowded in at the one sole machine they were allowed to use? Shouldn’t we try to rework the old system in whatever fashion so we can satisfy this voters’ urge?

 ”…and they continue to be used because the voters choose them in large numbers here in Riverside County. So I think we ought to extend an invitation to Secretary Bowen to come to the county, particularly around election time or during the election and get an idea of what are issues are regarding the continued use of our touchscreen machines, if only to reimburse us for the extra cost of the manual tally.

 ROV Dunmore: “…so the further contradiction is you can only have one per polling place but you can have an unlimited amount at early voting sites. And that early voting program is what really cost the county the majority of the $400,000. In May we did not have early voting sites and I believe that our tally, of course it was a lower turnout, was about $29,000 for which we billed Sequoia also and have not received any payment. But it’s getting more difficult in the arena of electronic voting, and if I may expand for just a moment, what we do for early voting is that we cut up the receipts so we can do a stack and sort method. All these are for one candidate, all these are for another candidate, and then we can count them. New recount regulations that are set to go into effect very soon do not allow us to cut up the tapes anymore. That we have to keep them on a single roll, which will make the 100% manual tally of any early voting unit take much longer than it did in November. I brought this up with the Chief Deputy Secretary of State Evan Goldberg and he said well I’ll make a note of that but it ended up in the recount regulations in any event. So it is getting more difficult for us to use electronic voting in an early voting venue.

Riverside Election Timeline

 Supervisor Buster: Sometimes you have to balance these risks that experts may correctly conclude you face with the public’s desire to try to come up with some kind of a compromise on these machines and that’s what I don’t see occurring here and that disturbs me. Particularly when we’re going to other countries and we’re trying to encourage democracy there and encourage people to vote – it seems to me uh, uh, it’s a real sore spot with me that these machines were I think were peremptorily jerked and banned almost totally from our county, and then, and then to keep our interest whetted in the issue, doled out one of them completely inconsistent too with their scientific findings of a high risk involved. So it doesn’t – what the actual results of the state actions by the Secretary of State’s office don’t make sense from any standpoint if you want to look at them.”

 Chairman Stone: “…What is Sequoia doing as our vendor to adapt their software to the mitigation measures the Secretary of State would like to see implemented in software so we can begin using these machines again? Are they actively engaged with the Secretary of State, are they actively engaged in modifying the software so that we can begin utilizing these machines again?”

ROV Dunmore: “Well the trend of the industry seems to be moving away from electronic voting. I was at the nationwide conference in San Diego in July or August and they have all the vendors out there ES&S, Premier, Sequoia, there’s one other one that is escaping me, Dominion voting was there and they are all moving to precinct-based scan counters similar to what Sequoia now has on the market which is the Insight where you vote your paper ballot, you slide it into a slot, and it counts the marks on that right there, and they are recorded onto a cartridge, similar to our DREs, and the cartridge is brought back to our office and counted, uh, processed.

Now, the twist that the industry is going in right now is that all the new precinct-based optical scanners are taking a picture of the ballot. So not only do you have the ballot, but now it’s taking a picture of the ballot and you have the cartridge and that is Sequoia’s new product, how Dominion Voting is coming at it, and also Premier. And so I think that they have saturated the market with electronic voting units, um, there is no more market for them. I talked with Jack Blain, the president of Sequoia at that particular conference – he was trying to sell me on their new product which is this precinct optical scanner that takes a picture. I said well how much will you give me for my DREs if I take this to my board? He said well there’s not much of a market for those these days. So, so, um, I hope that answers your question. I don’t not believe they have anything in Federal testing at this point to um remedy the software that is currently on them and I believe it’s because across the nation the doors are really being shut toward electronic voting. It’s not – to go through the certification process is a very very expensive process

Chairman Stone: But they’re already certified by the Federal government. Has the Federal government expressed the issues the Secretary of State has with respect to Sequoia software?

ROV Dunmore: Uh, with regards to that, our Secretary of State requires that they go through the federal testing and get a federal cert number before she will even test it here. Any issues that were brought up at the federal level, and I’d have to go research those, if there were any, have been remedied and they were given a cert number for the current software that we’re using. But they don’t have anything, I don’t believe, in the testing at the federal level right now. Again, it’s very expensive and if there’s not a market for it they’re likely not willing to invest in putting that forward.

Chairman Stone: “—the federal government didn’t have any issues with the integrity of the Sequoia voting system, otherwise they would not have given a certification for it. So here we have one person in the state of California that stands in the way of comprehensive, accurate voting devices that have never had any legal challenges that have resulted in a fraud. We’ve had machines that have cut costs, expedited results to the electorate so they can see the results of elections, so because of ONE PERSON we are withheld from using these machines that are federally certified. So, if we have a new Secretary of State, and I believe she’s up for reelection at this time, those machines could be recertified by a new Secretary of State, and we could utilize those machines without any problems, is that correct?”

ROV Dunmore: Yes

Chairman Stone: Thank you Barbara.

 

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