Open Letter to Riverside County Registrar and Supervisors

To the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, Registrar of Voters, Media, and Others

by Tom Courbat, Executive Director, SAVE R VOTE

Just to let everyone know, I have been trying to keep the issue of the proposed security testing of the election system (the hack that Supervisor Stone proposed) on a professional level. I will continue to do so, and obviously cannot control (nor would I attempt to control) the bloggers out there. Mr. Friedman has taken a keen interest in this issue in Riverside, along with election integrity issues throughout the United States, and often makes pokes at those he believes are not moving fast enough in the right direction, or whom he deems to be “waffling” on important election integrity opportunities. His story today on Jeff Stone follows the story on the conviction and imprisonment of Republican Ohio Congressman Bob Ney, who, in conjunction with Jack Abramoff, drafted HAVA ($4 billion for e-voting vendors) and refused to allow any changes/improvements to it in subsequent years. See these two stories below this email.

I continue to urge Mr. Stone and this Board to support a realistic security examination of the election system under the conditions that ANYONE would have available to them before, during and after the election. To establish the very limiting parameters on conducting a security test is like a jewelry store owner leaving the back door and the safe open and telling a security company he wants them to test the security of his facility, but they can ONLY come in the front door, they can ONLY stand in front of the locked glass jewelry case for 15 minutes, they can’t reach around the back, and they can’t bring in any tools, and they can’t study the facility or talk to employees before making the attempt. He goes on to tell them that if they can’t steal jewelry (undetected) in THAT 15 minute period, he concludes that his entire facility is completely safe. Come on Mr. Stone, does the county REALLY believe the election system is tamper-proof? If you don’t remove the new restrictions you added long after making the initial open offer, then the public and media can only conclude you really DON’T believe the election system is tamper-proof, thus telling everyone their votes MAY or MAY NOT have been counted the way they were cast.

By refusing to meet with SAVE R VOTE to discuss potential ground rules, notwithstanding a response from the Secretary of State’s office, Mr. Stone is making it incredibly difficult to establish meaningful dialog on what makes sense, and forces us to communicate via the media. We have elected to provide the media with as much information on this issue as possible since we really have no other method to communicate with Mr. Stone and the Board, other than the 3 minutes allotted to each of us at the Board meetings each week, in which the Board members either ignore our comments and recommendations, or make defensive or derogatory comments as the “last word”. There is no open dialog about the issues with the election system, and even the fact that the Blue Ribbon committee will hold its first meeting at 10 a.m. on next Tuesday (conveniently at the same time the BOS is meeting and discussing the Registrar’s report on the November 7th election), SAVE R VOTE was never notified, and in fact, my email inquiry to Chairman Tavaglione regarding the date/time/location of the meeting went unanswered, further perpetuating the sense that the County really doesn’t want participation in the process by election integrity advocates. And since the committee reports directly to Chairman Tavaglione, it would seem that he would be fully apprised of the particulars of the meeting.

Why there has to be such resistance to recommendations to shore up the security of the election system is difficult to fathom. I know the County has spent over $35 million (likely closer to $40 million) on a system that you tout as being “top of the line”, but observations from those without a vested interest show a totally different picture. It is time to move forward with the “hack test”, then conduct a full-blown election system security audit (top to bottom – everything) and implement safeguards to limit the opportunities for manipulation of the system.

And finally, as we have recommended before, a comprehensive audit by a firm with no ties to Riverside County needs to be conducted on two aspects of the ROV – 1) the processes and procedures being used and how/if they comply with the spirit and the letter of the appropriate laws/regulations and how these procedures impact the voter and 2) a financial audit to determine how much was spent before e-voting and how much is now being spent on the system that was supposed to save taxpayers $600,000 per year, and whether those expenditures were made within legal and procedural guidelines (sole-sourcing, certified system at time of purchase commitment, etc.)

My research shows that last year the county spent an unbelievable (astronomical?) unbudgeted amount on elections and has spent more every year since implementing e-voting than they ever did prior to Sequoia coming onto the scene. I will be releasing the specifics of this research next week, with full documentation, and it will be very disturbing, to say the least.

The taxpayers of this county deserve to know the true total cost of this system, just as they deserve the right to watch the votes being counted and results fully posted. So far, none of these has been forthcoming from the County, and SAVE R VOTE has had to take lead on this to make progress on behalf of the citizens/taxpayers/voters in Riverside County. We have been professional, diligent and persistent in our endeavors and we will continue in a like manner. We will continue our appearances at the Board each week, and will be in attendance at the Blue Ribbon committee to provide observations and recommendations.

Tom Courbat
Executive Director
Riverside County, CA