Texas Precinct 255 Election Results by pty71927

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									Some Citizens’ Responses to the ERC Report                                                      p. 1


              Some Citizens’ Responses to the
          Election Review Committee Report
                           Boulder County, Colorado
                                    August 2, 2005




Joe Pezzillo: Introduction and Funding Independent Citizens Group

Commissioners—

Thank you for holding yet another public hearing on the elections debacle in Boulder
County.

While we wish the County Clerk godspeed in her recovery, we also expect that you and
she will schedule a public meeting at which we can question her publicly regarding the
mismanagement of her office identified by the ERC report, the shortcomings of the ERC
report and her rebuttal, and a number of other lingering issues that have yet to be
addressed by her. We ask for another public hearing at which alternatives to the ERC and
Clerk’s proposals can be considered.

As has been noted by the Longmont Times Call editorial board, ALL BLAME rests
entirely on the County, and in particular, the County Clerk.

Every issue identified by the ERC report results from her incredibly poor decision to
purchase untested, unreliable and completely untrustworthy election equipment.

Let the record be clear that Citizen Activists, who are unfairly and incorrectly blamed in
the ERC and Clerk’s reports, did everything in their power to stop the purchase of that
system as well as to help with the legal oversight of the Logic and Accuracy Test.
Democracy requires the participation of the maximum number of citizens. To devise
plans as the Clerk and the Secretary of State have done to reduce the participation of
citizens is anti-American. The fact that the Clerk gloats about her success in this matter in
her response to the ERC is at the least unprofessional.

Today, we are here to ask you for a specific set of actions to begin to restore the trust in
our elections that the Boulder County Clerk has damaged.
Some Citizens’ Responses to the ERC Report                                                    p. 2


1. We request that you fund an independent citizens group to provide continuous
   oversight of Boulder County’s elections procedures. We request an amount no less
   than that provided to the ERC, five thousand dollars per annum, and insist that this
   group be completely independent of the County Clerk’s office, something that cannot
   be said of the ERC.

2. Second, we reiterate our request that Boulder County provide the citizens an accurate
   and trustworthy elections system. Only by blatantly ignoring the facts can the Clerk
   claim that the current system is accurate, and it is clearly not reliable enough to be
   considered trustworthy.

3. We ask you to resurrect the secret, anonymous ballot cast in our local
   neighborhood precincts. The last two elections in Boulder County were in violation
   of the Colorado State Constitution because the ballots were not secret, and there is no
   indication that the coming election in November will meet this fundamental
   requirement. We reject the notion that the method of conducting our elections should
   have the convenience of the clerk and her staff as the primary goal.

4. Further, we insist that the County make NO additional purchases of proprietary
   elections equipment. In particular, we expect that not another penny of Boulder
   County taxpayer money will be spent on equipment from Hart Intercivic. We remain
   shocked and appalled that the County has not asked for nor received a complete
   refund for the money that has been wasted already.

5. In addition to rejecting proprietary equipment, we also insist that all elections
   records that can be made public are released as open records in a timely and cost-
   free manner. It is absolutely unacceptable to be told that our elections records are
   trade secrets of a private company.

6. We expect that every election held in Boulde r County will be thoroughly
   manually audited by persons not connected with the Clerk’s office who are given
   complete access to all records needed to verify the counts.

7. Finally, we ask you to embody our requests into law by passing language that
   would guarantee that Boulder County’s citizens are provided this basic level of
   accountability over our taxpayer-funded elections.

As a first step toward accomplishing these ends, I return to our request that you act today
to fund an independent citizens group and to draft such law as you are able that will
protect the vote in Boulder County.

Joe Pezzillo
Boulder, Colorado
jpezzillo@qwest.net
   Some Citizens’ Responses to the ERC Report                                                               p. 3



Ivan Meek: The Problem with Receipts; a Better Approach

Commissioners:

I am affiliated with a Boulder County citizens group, The Democracy Technology Project,
concerned with election integrity. Part of that effort included a thoughtful consideration of what we,
as citizens, expect from the election process. The effort resulted in a fifteen-point document,
Requirements for the Election Process.

One essential part of that effort can be summarized as follow: There should be a transparent and
robust chain-of-custody of the ballots from the start of voting until all questions concerning the
outcome of the election are final. Transparency implies that the voter should unambiguously and
directly mark a tangible ballot (e.g., paper) with no intermediate electronics or other hidden
technology.

This means that a voter communicating their intent to a computer, as in conventional touch-screen
voting machines, looses sight of their vote the instant it is cast. The opportunities for fraud and error
are obvious as nearly everyone now realizes.

Not so obvious are the problems where a computer generates a receipt, or a paper ballot where the
voter can verify the printed output. Election tampering (or errors) with a paper receipt, or Voter
Verified Paper Trail, or a Voter Verified Paper Ballot are subtler and are thus even more insidious.

The only way a citizen can have any confidence in an election outcome is with a directly
marked, unambiguous tangible ballot!

There are thousands of ways to subvert a paper trail on an electronic voting machine. I will cover
just a few for illustration purposes. To understand how fraud can occur it is important to keep some
principles in mind.

          The main issue everyone seems to be missing: detecting election fraud (or error) is not
           the same a preventing election fraud (or error)!
          With electronic voting machines, the only tangible evidence of the voter’s intent
           disappears as soon as they remove their fingers from the machine.
          Redundant paths of vote records, such as having an electronic tally and a paper record,
           create the possibility for ambiguity. Ambiguity in vote records is an open door for
           election fraud.
          It is not necessary to flip every vote to change an election outcome. Most elections are
           close; usually a percent or two can switch an election.
          Those intent on voter fraud have a whole bucket of dirty tricks. They tend to dump them
           out all at once and see what works. A percent here, a half percent there, one crooked
           precinct—forget the rest—and the election is rigged.
Some Citizens’ Responses to the ERC Report                                                          p. 4

A directly marked, unambiguous tangible ballot with a transparent chain of custody can
mitigate these problems.

Here are a few examples from that bucket of dirty tricks:

          It is not even necessary to rig the machines. Simply have a few ringers loudly claim their
           votes were not accurately recorded and make a fuss. With the help of sympathetic
           election officials, the outcome of the election is in doubt and the courts can step in.
          In New Mexico, the machines were not rigged, but election officials knew that certain
           brands of electronic voting machines (older Sequoia machines) were unreliable and were
           prone to undervotes. Dishonest election officials simply assigned those machines to
           Native-American and Hispanic precincts. A few percent-lost votes was all it took to
           sway the election.
          Or taking a note from the Boulder County Clerk’s book, claim the intermediate evidence
           (in Boulder’s case, the ballot images) is ―vendor proprietary.‖ You want to see the rolls
           of paper receipts? Sorry, they belong to the vendor. Just ―trust us.‖
          Redundant paths, electronic and paper? What if the printer fails? (California just
           rejected Diebold DREs because of a 10% printer failure rate.) Want to know how to
           make a thermal printer fail during an election? Just call me; I will give you specific
           directions.
          Will a ―Verified Paper Trail‖ prevent voter fraud? No, it just attempts to DETECT fraud;
           it doesn’t prevent it. Even to detect fraud, VPT requires an ―unfounded mandate‖ from
           the voters (a requirement in addition to voting), which is checking their printout. How
           many will actually check? Probably not those who believe in electronic infallibility, not
           those in a hurry. Of those that spot a disagreement, how many will complain to a poll
           worker? Will the poll worker allow them another vote? If only one vote in twenty is
           flipped, it is enough in a close election to change the outcome and can be chalked up to
           ―careless voters.‖

Both the ―VotePuncher,‖ an enhancement of the older Datavote machine used in Boulder County for
decades, as proposed by The Democracy Technology Project and the ―Swiss Ballot‖ system each
have directly marked tangible ballots highly immune to fraud and error. They are also much cheaper
to purchase and maintain than electronically based systems. There are probably other systems as
well.

For the record, HAVA (the Help America Vote Act of 2001) does NOT prohibit punched card
voting machines, and Colorado State law does not prohibit the Datavote-style punch card voting
machine.

When a falsehood is repeated enough, it does not become a fact, as some in Washington believe, but
becomes a lie. It is time to stop saying that federal and state HAVA law prohibits punch card voting
machines.

Sincerely, Ivan C. Meek
255 Regal Street, Louisville, CO 80027, ivan.meek@3rDCC.com, 303-807-3858
    Some Citizens’ Responses to the ERC Report                                                           p. 5


Geof Cahoon: Accurate Counting of Votes and Trust in the Process

Because of the problems encountered by the County during the November 2004 election, and
demonstrated once again in the St. Vrain School District election, we call into question the assumptions
seen in these reports that the County will continue to go down a technologically slippery slope, continuing
to use unreliable, inaccurate and proprietary equipment supplied by a software company wholly reliant on
other companies for their overpriced equipment.

It was fortunate, as it turns out, that a recount was required for the St. Vrain School District contest. The
difference between YES and NO in the original four-county election was less than ½ of one percent – 127
votes. You could infer, perhaps, that the system approaches being ―accurate.‖

But recount results in the St. Vrain election and the following analysis by citizen activists show that the
Boulder County vote-counting system is not reliable.

   1. Only 22.8 percent of the 79 precincts achieved identical results in the two counts.
   2. There are 759 differences in ―ballots counted‖ section of the reports.
   3. There are 34 differences in the ―votes counted‖ section of the reports.

Clerical error might explain some, but not all of the differences. Counting equipment error might explain
some of the differences. Intentional changes could explain some, but not all of the changes. For example,
in precinct 4171107003 there are no differences in the number of ballots counted, yet there are 4 more
YES and 1 more NO votes counted.

No matter how the differences are explained, it is the case that the results counted by the Boulder County
vote-counting system are not reliable enough to be used by the County in the future.

Relating to the question of reliability and accuracy is the mode of balloting itself. Both the County Clerk
and the ERC made a significant error in ruling out reliance on the dependable punch card voting system
used for more than 30 years in our County.

The statement on page 11 of the ERC Report erroneously states: ―…the State of Colorado had mandated
that punched card systems would no longer be allowed after January 2006.‖

The Colorado HAVA Rules, promulgated by the Secretary of State, clearly draw a distinction between
perforated card systems using a stylus to pierce the ballot, which are not allowed, and punch card systems,
which are clearly permitted.

Many of us in the community see no reason to adopt proprietary, insecure, and flawed systems in a futile
attempt to keep up with Jones County. The punch card ballot that served us so well is a legitimate, non-
patentable, reliable, and cost-effective voting model that should not be tossed out with machines that
simply wore out after 30 years. An ―open-source‖ approach to specifying a voting system that the Co unty
can procure with significantly lower costs should be on the list of solutions to the quandary faced by the
County Commissioners today.

As taxpayers and citizens we expect our voting system to be open, accurate, reliable, and cost effective.

Geof Cahoon, Boulder, Colorado, gcahoon@indra.com
Some Citizens’ Responses to the ERC Report                                                           p. 6


      Myriah Conroy: Precinct Voting versus Vote Centers

      Good afternoon, Commissioners.

      I want to speak to you today about the precinct level activities all of us have been engaged in
      to elect and support candidates we feel will best represent us. At the end of a long
      campaigning effort, there is nothing better than to see your hard work pay off, whether it’s
      winning or just seeing an increase of activity in neighborhoods where you spent time talking
      and understanding folks’ perspectives. Sometimes the reward for all of this work is simply
      seeing that increase in participation. But what would it feel like to not know how you’d done
      anywhere but on the bottom line? How would you know if your efforts had had any impact?
      This is the result of vote centers as evidenced in Larimer County—no precinct results, no
      verifiability, no take-away lessons about various efforts, and no confirmation of citizen
      perspective observed at the precinct level.

      Precinct voting builds community and ensures accountability and verifiability of our elections
      process. This neighbor-to-neighbor verification that is available through the precinct voting
      process allows citizens to have confidence that their participation makes a difference. Local,
      block-level elections necessitate citizen involvement that maintains our deep democratic
      traditions.

      Vote Center voting is already in use here in Boulder County during our early voting process.
      This seems an appropriate use for this type of voting that allows emergency registrations and
      should prevent the use of provisional ballots. Perhaps the County’s three early Vote Centers
      should be open through Election Day, complementing the precinct voting and accommodating
      those with special needs. However, any expansion of Vote Center use would be anti-
      community/pro-technocrat disenfranchising of senior and minority populations. As Vote
      Centers are currently used, they break the chain of accountability and verifiability from the
      precinct level. I would recommend that you request the Clerk to make ALL results available
      by precinct level using each voter’s precinct number. Vote Centers are anti-democratic
      because they require technocrats and technology that not all citizens can comprehend.

      If the Clerk deems citizen involvement in our elections as a hurdle to a fluid process,
      something her office stated as a reason to justify this fall’s forced mail ballot election, might I
      suggest using some of the funds allocated for education for education to help enhance voter
      knowledge and comfort with their democratic process. Any sort of educational outreach
      would certainly increase participation and would negate any need for forced mail ballots in
      future.

      Precinct voting is desirable for maintaining a strong democracy that encourages accountability
      and verifiability. All types of voting—including absentee, voluntary mail voting, early voting
      and provisional voting—should also be verifiable to the precinct level, which is easily
      accomplished through use of the precinct number associated with each voter.

      Thank you.

      Myriah Conroy
      Boulder, Colorado, myriah_conroy@qwest.net
Some Citizens’ Responses to the ERC Report                                                     p. 7


Ralph Shnelvar: Anonymous Ballots and Logic and Accuracy Testing

Commissioners,

I wish to reiterate our request for the funding of an independent group of citizen activists
to oversee elections. I was a party to a constitutional challenge to the permanent marking
of ballots with serial numbers. The Clerk said that this was a frivolous lawsuit. We paid
for this suit from our own pockets and we certainly did not think of it as frivolous but a
defense of the secret ballot. We lost in court because the judge had set the burden of
proof very high because of the emergency nature of the lawsuit. We need to make sure
that ballots are secret and perceived to be secret. We need to go back to the old style
where ballots had perforations so that the serial numbers and the ballots could not even
theoretically be associated. We need to make sure that the ballot images don’t include
serial numbers.

I will go to my grave knowing that Al Kolwicz and I did nothing wrong when we
challenged the Clerk and Hart Intercivic to tell us the version number of the software that
was being used by the computers that were doing the counting. I know that what was
certified by the state and what was being run were two different version numbers. I know
this for a fact because I was there. I know that the Clerk just ―wanted to get on with it‖
when the machines and the systems were being laughably tested. Is it any surprise that
the result of the lack of testing was a fiasco? I know that observers cannot observe. I
know that systems are not being tested. Shame of the Clerk, shame of the Secretary of
State, shame of the legislature for passing a law removing the last vestige of truly
independent oversight. If the Clerk doesn’t like the questions being asked then the Clerk
can eject that person … forever. For shame. You have the power to put financial, legal,
and political pressure on the Clerk to grant to a truly independent organization the ability
to oversee the elections. Give us—Democrats, Greens, Unaffiliated, Republicans, and
Libertarians—who have joined together to preserve the democratic process the power to
do so.

Ralph Shnelvar
1333 King Ave.
Boulder, CO 80302
303-546-6125
Some Citizens’ Responses to the ERC Report                                                            p. 8

Joe Pezzillo: No proprietary equipment or software

While the County Clerk seeks to blame the printer, the ERC report indicates that of the approximately 13
thousand ballots that the system rejected, about 12 thousand of those were indistinguishable from ―good‖
ballots to the human eye.

The clerk seeks to blame the printer by saying that it is the printer’s responsibility to have figured out the
specifications, although none were provided. Worse, on January 29th, 2004, the County Clerk stood
before the County Commissioners and said that there were no special requirements or specifications,
and in fact, one of the advantages of the Hart system she wanted to purchase was that it did not require
any special printing such as would be the case with optical scan ballots.

When a citizen asked to see post-election ballot images from the computer system, they were told that
such data was a proprietary trade secret of the vendor.

Further, the Clerk and the ERC both accepted as factual that Boulder County was the only jurisdiction to
have had any problems with this vendor’s system.

In fact, it appears from a simple Web search that almost every jurisdiction to use Hart equipment has had
problems.

In two different counties in Texas, votes on Hart’s eSlate system mysteriously switched from Democrat to
Republican candidates. In Orange County, California, the Hart system gave thousands of voters the wrong
ballots. And in Yakima County, Washington, scanner errors made otherwise ―good‖ ballots into
―damaged‖ ballots.

Here in Boulder County, because of the St. Vrain recount, we were able to see that vote tallies changed
from the general election to the recount, indicating a substantial accuracy problem.

Finally, since the Clerk has abdicated her responsibility to private vendors—in direct contradiction to her
own campaign platform and publicly stated goal of having our ballots printed in Boulder County—let’s
take a look at who she’s chosen.

Would you like Boulder County’s elections to be run by a company whose board of directors includes the
all-time #1 contributor to the president’s career? Or maybe you’d prefer to send Boulder County taxpayer
dollars to enrich the privately managed ―Texas Growth Fund‖ instead of spending that money here
locally? Well guess what? Hart Intercivic has both.

We do not want our elections results to require a private technocrat. This commercialization of our
elections must stop, and we ask that you stop it here and now. The County Clerk and the Commissioners
have been presented with at least two alternatives for non-proprietary elections systems, and a third, open-
source computer system has been used successfully in Australia.

To continue to spend our taxpayer dollars on vendors of elections systems that care more about their
corporate shareholder profits than strengthening our democracy is a grave violation of our trust in your
management of our community treasury.

Joe Pezzillo
Boulder, Colorado
jpezzillo@qwest.net
Some Citizens’ Responses to the ERC Report                                                      p. 9


Mary Eberle: Hand Auditing

We Americans must not give in to black-box voting. Even if we use machines to help
with the bulk of vote counting, we must retain control over the count itself. To do this
requires hand-counting audits by persons not connected with the County Clerk’s office or
with any voting equipment vendor. In any election, a sufficient number of ballots must be
hand recounted and compared with the voting machine’s tally for those ballots. If there is
a mismatch, then a full recount of the paper ballots must be ordered and carried out.

In the final recommendation of the Election Review Committee, the members of that
committee unanimously wanted our county’s representatives in the state legislature to
―Ask our state legislature to amend the state elections laws so that random hand counted
audits of paper ballots can be compared to electronically counted paper ballots. At
present this requires a specific and individual waiver of elections rules by the Secretary of
State.‖

The County Clerk did not address this recommendation in any way in her response to the
Election Review Committee Report. I think that it is the most substantial
recommendation that is contained in the ERC Report. Is the County Clerk just going to
ignore this recommendation?

I was present at the hand recount audit of the March 2005 election that the county ran for
the city of Boulder. The method was not obviously random, in that the three sets of
ballots that were recounted by hand had been picked by the Clerk. She said they were
randomly picked, but we observers were not present.

We citizens would like to see a more rigorous hand auditing method implemented and
used after every election. Furthermore, we want the paper ballots, not electronic records,
to be the official ballots to be consulted in the event of any mismatch that is detected
during a recount. In a perfect world, in my opinion, we would not use any electronic
ballots at all. We would hand count paper ballots in an open setting in the precincts,
among our friends and neighbors. There are good ways to accomplish this goal, and we
ask you to schedule another public hearing so that we and others can present alternatives
to the ERC Report and the County Clerk’s response.

Sincerely, and with hope for the future of Boulder County’s election process,
Mary C. Eberle
1520 Cress Court
Boulder, CO 80304
m.eberle@wordrite.com
(303) 442-2164

								
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