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

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

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.

Citizens for Democracy - Temecula Valley (CA)

Save R Vote

A Project of Citizens for Democracy-Temecula Valley*

32204 Calle Resaca Dr.
Temecula, CA 92592

Democracy for America-Temecula Valley
changed its name in late 2007 to
Citizens for Democracy-Temecula Valley (CfD-TV)
but remains the same organization.


Resolution of Affiliation with Election Defense Alliance

Whereas Election Defense Alliance (EDA) is national organization of election integrity advocates and groups, and

Whereas the effectiveness of the EDA is directly proportional to the number of organizations affiliated with it, and

Whereas a primary purpose of EDA is to promote and support open, fair, legal, transparent and auditable elections, and

Whereas EDA has requested that as many organizations as possible with concerns about election integrity affiliate themselves with EDA, and

Whereas the goals of Democracy for America-Temecula Valley (DFA-TV) include open, fair, legal, transparent and auditable elections, and

Whereas the DFA-TV has an election integrity project entitled SAVE R VOTE, and

Whereas the goals of the EDA and the goals of DFA-TV are closely aligned,

Democracy for America-Temecula Valley hereby officially affiliates itself with Election Defense Alliance.

Passed this 20th day of September, 2006 in Temecula, CA.*

Maxine Ewig -- Coordinator


Jerry Ewig -- Coordinator


"With persistence, and perseverance, you will be successful."
-- Tom Courbat, Executve Director of SAVE R VOTE

A Brief History of Citizen Election Monitoring in Riverside County, CA

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Accomplishments to Date, and Goals for November '08


1. Formed EOP
2. Precinct results posted at precincts
3. Stopped illegal transmissions over Internet
4. Monitored & reported on 5 elections
5. Trained about 100 volunteer observers
6. Required “Paper Ballots Available” posters
7. Motivated BOS to appoint Blue Ribbon group
8. Memory cards & ballots come in front door
9. Brought Hursti from Finland for Blue Ribbon
10. Enhanced chain of custody thru video evidence
11. Video surveillance now in warehouse
12. Stopped ROV entry of paper votes into DREs
13. 1% tally random draw same day as tally
14. Halogen lights now at collection centers
15. Wider voting booths for wheelchairs

Goals for November ‘08

1.  Video of any element except voter i.d.
2.  HCPB or DIOS scanners in precincts
3.  Observers in central tabulator room
4.  Full viewing of EVERY election part
5.  Criminal background checks - inspectors
6.  Exit polls at select locations

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:

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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