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.